Dresden – Since there has been no president in the German speed skating community DESG for almost half a year, Vice President Uwe Rietzke continues to assume responsibility in the association in times of the Corona crisis.
A financial hole in the association’s box office, just a few convincing performances by top athletes in the past winter and the seemingly endless gossip between the national coach and Claudia Pechstein. In an interview with the German Press Agency, the 57-year-old from Dresden comments on problems and solutions.
How does the DESG work under the conditions of the corona crisis?
Uwe Rietzke: The office is currently working in compliance with the regional regulations for contact reduction. This means that home offices are used wherever possible and direct contacts between employees are avoided due to the transfer of services.
How do limited training options affect the top athletes?
Rietzke: This is currently the normal “holiday season” in winter sports. The sportspeople are of course required to maintain their own general fitness. Above all, it is currently a matter of maintaining health while observing the regionally differentiated precautionary measures for Corona.
After the cancellation of the Extraordinary General Meeting, which was forced by the virus, there is no new Presidium. Much of the work continues to rest on the voluntary two-man presidium. How do you cope with it?
Rietzke: In addition to the preventive measures for the health of the family, fulfilling my task is certainly a top priority. The Presidium members are in regular contact by phone, email and video to agree on the tasks.
Rietzke: How is DESG’s financial situation now in spring? Has the financial gap of EUR 400,000 narrowed?
Rietzke: At the moment, no one can really say what effects the Corona crisis will have on the sports world as a whole and the DESG in concrete terms. We are in close contact with the DOSB and BMI to master this difficult time together. Certainly, companies are currently busy securing their own livelihood instead of starting a new sponsorship.
Rietzke: You have not yet made a precise statement as to whether you could imagine working as a DESG President, but on the other hand you have never ruled it out. When will the elections be rescheduled?
Rietzke: If you look at the Corona measures realistically, the election of the Presidium will certainly only take place in a proper MV. Thus, the provisional leadership of the association as 1st Vice President according to the statutes is the current option.
How do you rate Matthias Grosse’s sponsorship commitments in the event of his presidency?
Rietzke: The general assembly alone decides on the composition of the presidium. In my understanding, the aim of a sponsorship relationship should always be that it is long-term and not necessarily attached to the people involved.
What do you say about Michael Kurz’s presidential application, who has never been known to anyone in the speed skating scene?
Rietzke: It is interesting to note that a citizen of the country voluntarily asks for this office. The corona virus has so far not allowed a personal, direct exchange.
What are your hopes for the “Save DESG together” initiative?
Rietzke: Insofar as I perceived the people acting here as interested in the DESG, it can also lead to solutions. As I understand it, the group initiated an overarching exchange of ideas in order to find a common path to the future at DESG.
The conflict between national coach Erik Bouwman and Claudia Pechstein continues throughout the season. He doesn’t shed light on the bandage, how are you going to finally settle the dispute?
Rietzke: I hope that a future work basis can be created here in moderated discussions. Here, the reflection on the essentials through the corona crisis can develop a willingness to compromise among all those involved.
Was Bouwman’s criticism of Pechstein acceptable?
Rietzke: Freedom of expression is a fundamental right of our society. In my understanding, there are principles to be observed here, such as avoiding insults of any kind. Everyone should be aware of their effects.
About: Uwe Rietzke (57 years) has been Vice President of the German Speed Skating Community since September 2012 and is responsible for short track in this function. After the surprising resignation of President Stefanie Teeuwen in November, he heads the DESG Presidium, which now consists of only two people.