TURIN, Italy — The United States was left without a delegate on the International Olympic Committee's executive board after elections Friday in which a German, an Italian and a South African were elected to the 15-member panel.
Germany's Thomas Bach was elected to a four-year term as an IOC vice president, taking the seat being vacated by Jim Easton of Van Nuys. Bach is thought to be a potential candidate for the IOC presidency when the current president, Jacques Rogge of Belgium, steps down, probably in 2013.
Easton sought one of two other board openings, but Italy's Mario Pescante won one and South Africa's Sam Ramsamy the other.
The senior U.S. delegate to the IOC, Anita DeFrantz of Los Angeles, who had for months indicated that she would run for the board, withdrew her candidacy before Friday's vote. She said it was a "hard decision," made with the idea of throwing more support behind Easton, "and I wish it had made the difference for Jim."
The results mean that the United States, which remains the most important financial contributor to the Olympic movement, finds itself without political representation on the board for at least the next year -- a key period as the Olympic movement turns toward Beijing and the 2008 Summer Games.
Since 1989 -- albeit with a break here and there of a few months, as from July 2001 through February 2002, when DeFrantz rotated off the board and Easton was then elected a vice president -- the United States has held a seat on the board.
The votes Friday capped a week that indicated the strides the U.S. Olympic Committee must make in the international relations arena. The USOC acknowledged that this week by hiring Robert Fasulo, an American who has been living in Europe for 15 years, holding a variety of positions in international sports.
This week, baseball and softball, sports closely identified with the United States, lost a bid for reinstatement. The IOC on Thursday ratified a decision made in July, at a session in Singapore, to exclude the two sports from the Olympic program after the 2008 Games. They were the first two sports chucked since polo in 1936.
New York finished fourth in the contest settled in July for the 2012 Games, which went to London.
"We can only go up from here," said Donna DeVarona, a U.S. swimming gold medalist and long a visible figure in international Olympic circles.
"The seeds of what happened here have been sown the last five or 10 years," said the third U.S. member of the IOC, Bob Ctvrtlik, referring to frequent turnover in top USOC management and the lack of international relations strategy.
Moreover, there is renewed pressure for the USOC to give up the 12.75% share of U.S. broadcast rights fees and the 20% cut of marketing revenue it has for years enjoyed. Rogge said Friday that such discussions, between him and Peter Ueberroth, since 2004 the USOC chairman, were continuing but "not in a hostile environment whatsoever."
Meanwhile, five candidates were confirmed Friday as IOC delegates, lifting the committee's membership to 115, of whom 14 are women.
None of the five new members are American: Prince Tunku Imran, president of the Olympic committee in Malaysia; Francesco Ricci Bitti of Italy, head of the International Tennis Federation; Nicole Hoevertsz, a 1984 Olympian and secretary-general of the national Olympic committee of Aruba; Beatrice Allen, vice president of the Olympic committee of Gambia; and Hein Verbruggen of Holland, the former head and now executive vice president of the International Cycling Federation.
In other action here this week, the IOC confirmed the admission of the Marshall Islands as a recognized national Olympic committee. That increases the number of such committees to 203 -- more than the number of member states in the United Nations.