Bokel defeated two other candidates — two-time Olympic skeleton athlete Adam Pengilly of Britain and four-time Olympic swimming gold medallist Alexander Popov of Russia.
Bokel competed in three Olympics and won a team silver medal at the 2004 Athens Games. She has served as vice chair of the athletes panel since 2010.
Bokel will serve a two-year term. She succeeds former Namibian sprinter Frank Fredericks, whose term expired.
Athletes on the panel serve as IOC members for an eight-year term. The chair represents the athletes on the powerful executive board.