By Brian Homewood
LAUSANNE (Reuters) - Volleyball's governing body had only two presidents for the first 51 years of its existence, so it was something of a surprise when the current incumbent said he would give up his post after only one term.
Wei Jizhong told Reuters that he will stick by his decision, saying it will allow him to make sure that this year's elections are the most transparent the FIVB has had.
"I had the opportunity to become president and my goals were to change the image of the FIVB in the sporting world and to make changes in the internal governance according to the following four basic principles: transparency, democracy, delegation of power and supervision," he said.
"Since I am not looking to be re-elected, I can organise and supervise the most democratic elections in the history of FIVB," said Wei, a sprightly 75-year-old who was formerly head of the Asian Volleyball Confederation.
"I think it's the right thing to do, to show that now we are a truly democratic organisation."
Wei's decision is unusual among sporting directors, many of whom spend decades in their posts.
Sepp Blatter will have been head of soccer's governing body FIFA for 17 years when his current mandate ends in 2015 and his predecessor Joao Havelange was at the helm for 24 years.
Wei's predecessors were both around for a long time. Frenchman Paul Libaud headed the FIVB from its founding in 1947 until 1984, when he was replaced by Mexico's Ruben Acosta, who occupied the seat for another 24 years.
When Acosta called it a day in 2008, he put forward Wei's name as his successor during the FIVB Congress and the Chinese was immediately approved. No other candidates were given a chance.
"Maybe being an ex-sportsman gives me a different perspective," said Wei, who played the sport to a high level with the Nanjing University team.
"I wanted to limit the term of future FIVB presidents but the executive committee would not agree to that."
Doug Beal of the United States, Ary Graca of Brazil and Australia's Chris Schacht will be standing to replace Wei at the FIVB Congress in California in September.
Wei's four years at the helm have also included a re-branding of the FIVB and the introduction of a development fund to help the growth of the sport at grass roots level.
Wei said he wanted the continental confederations to take a greater role in organising international competitions and saw beach volleyball as having a bigger potential for growth, especially in developing countries.
"To play indoors volleyball, you need 12 players and a gymnasium. For beach volleyball, you just need a sand pit, a net and a ball and you can play," he said.
Wei said that the FIVB was still searching for the right kind of technology to help referees make decisions.
The Hawkeye system used in tennis was too expensive and the FIVB were instead studying three other possibilities, although it would be crucial that any system employed in volleyball could decipher when a player had touched the net.
Wei said that FIVB were not overjoyed at choice of the Earls Court Exhibition hall as venue for the volleyball events at the London Olympics.
"We would have preferred a sports hall," he said, "but the facilities are good enough and, although some members of the executive committee were not very happy, we are not going to make a scene."
(Editing by Alastair Himmer)