Olympics-Indian cricket team owner Ambani among eight new IOC members

Reliance Industries' Chairman Mukesh Ambani (R) poses with his wife Nita Ambani before addressing the company's annual general meeting in Mumbai June 7, 2012. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Nita Ambani, an Indian businesswoman and owner of the Mumbai Indians cricket team franchise, was among eight new members elected to the International Olympic Committee on Thursday on the eve of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Ambani, the wife of India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, who is the chairman of Reliance Industries, joined world governing bob and skeleton federation chief Ivo Ferriani of Italy, South African film producer Anant Singh and Austria Olympic committee chief Karl Stoss.

Nita Ambiani also heads the Reliance Foundation and is the chairperson of the franchise-based Indian Super League soccer tournament.

Canadian Olympic committee president Tricia Smith, Finland’s Sari Essayah, Colombia’s former ambassador to the U.S Luis Moreno and Secretary General of the Papua New Guinea Olympic Committee Auvita Rapilla were also voted in.

The eight new members bring the total number of IOC members to 98.

Moreno, Singh and Ambani were earmarked for membership by the IOC Members Election Commission which is chaired by Britain’s Princess Anne as candidates outside the Olympic and sport community who could usher in a fresh approach and new skills to the organisation.

As part of reforms agreed in 2014, the IOC is eager to elect members “with different sets of skills and knowledge while ensuring the necessary balance in terms of gender and geography”.

In separate internal elections, the son of the late Juan Antonio Samaranch, who led the IOC from 1980 to 2001, Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., was elected to the position of Vice President of the Olympic body along with Turkey’s Ugur Erdener.

Former Olympic pole vault champion Sergey Bubka won another term on the powerful executive board, with United States member Angela Ruggiero also joining the decision-making body after being elected as head of the IOC’s athletes’ commission.

Additional reporting by Sudipto Ganguly, Editing by Ed Osmond