(CNN)Gian Franco Kasper, head of the world skiing body, has rowed back on recent comments about how "everything is easier in dictatorships."
The president of the International Ski Federation (FIS) made the controversial remarks in an interview with Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger in reference to China being awarded the 2022 Winter Olympics, the AFP news agency reported.
Now Kasper has released a statement in which he said his comments "were not meant to be taken literally."
"Dictators can organize events such as this without asking the people's permission," Kasper was quoted as saying. "For us, everything is easier in dictatorships."
Kasper is an honorary member of the International Olympic Committee, which awarded the 2022 Winter Olympics to Beijing amid competition from Almaty, Kazakhstan.
The Chinese capital hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics, but 2022 will mark the first winter games held in the country.
Kasper also addressed global warming in the interview, echoing US President Donald Trump's skeptical stance on the phenomenon.