Gian Franco Kasper, head of the International Ski Federation (FIS), has backed down on recent comments he made on climate change and how “everything is easier in dictatorships.”
Kasper made the controversial remarks earlier this week in an interview with Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger, which was covering a story about China being awarded the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Now Kasper has released a statement in which he said his comments “were not meant to be taken literally.”
Kasper, 75, has been president of the federation for over 20 years, and was a member of the IOC until last year. He said his comments were “misunderstood.”
“They were not meant to be taken literally, but this was not clear in the final story,” Kasper claimed.
In the original interview with the Tages Anzeiger, he was asked to elaborate on his beliefs about climate change and he referred to cold temperatures at last year’s Winter Olympics. During the interview Kasper also said he does not believe in the science around climate change.
“All the discussions about artificial snow and wasting of water, they never stop. Not a single drip of water is lost. Ok. The energy needed to create artificial snow, that’s a different thing, but considering waste of water: if you sprinkle your garden the water does not disappear out of a sudden. And that is supposedly the argument against winter sports? And then there still is the so-called climate change,” he said.
When the reporter questioned him about him characterizing climate change as “so-called,” Kasper replied.
“There is no proof for it. We have snow, in part even a lot of it,” he said. “I was in Pyeongchang for the Olympiad. We had minus 35 degrees Celsius. Everybody who came to me shivering I welcomed with: welcome to global warming.”
Also under scrutiny in the interview were his comments about dictators as related to China being selected to host the 2022 Winter Olympics.
“It’s just the way that it is easier for us in dictatorships. From a business view I say: I just want to go to dictatorships, I don’t want to fight with environmentalists anymore,” Kasper said.
This is not the first time Kasper has made controversial statements. In 2005, he said he was opposed to women competing in ski jumping.
“Don’t forget, it’s like jumping down from, let’s say, about two meters on the ground about a thousand times a year, which seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view,” he said.