(Reuters) – Gian Franco Kasper, the president of the International Ski Federation (FIS), has said he will step down from his position at the International Ski Congress in Thailand next year.
Kasper was named secretary general of the federation in 1975 and elected as president in 1998.
The 75-year-old Swiss will leave his post in May at the 52nd FIS congress, which will choose his replacement.
Under his leadership, the number of ski and snowboard events has increased at the world championships and Olympics.
The FIS has also grown from 100-member national associations to its current strength of 133.
Kasper’s spell in charge, however, has come under scrutiny for his past controversial statements and his stance on environmental issues.
In 2017, Kasper was forced to apologize for his comments after he compared the ban on Russia from the 2018 Winter Olympics with the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany.
He was also criticized for questioning climate change in a Swiss newspaper interview last year and saying he would prefer to host events in dictatorships than to deal with environmentalists.
In February, he said his comments were “not meant to be taken literally but this was not clear in the final story.”
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)