Diplomat, former head of state will lead search for 2036 Olympic host

Former president of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović handed high profile assignment. IOC member and World Triathlon President Marisol Casado joins Future Host Commission.

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović (IOC Greg Martin)
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović (IOC Greg Martin)

The former president of Croatia will lead the IOC search for a city to host the 2036 Summer Olympics.

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović was named chair of the Future Host Commission for the Games of the Olympiad, as it is officially known. The 10-member commission was created two years ago to take over the selection of Olympic host cities under a new process replacing the competition between cities to secure the votes of IOC members. A similar commission exists for the Winter Olympics, chaired by Romanian IOC member Octavian Morariu.

Grabar-Kitarović is a newcomer to the IOC, elected in 2020, her final year of five as president of the Republic of Croatia. While absent any mention of sport, her resume is filled with diplomatic and political appointments. And though she is a backbencher at the IOC, 93 of 102 members, Grabar-Kitarović has been handed a high profile assignment. In a statement announcing her appointment, IOC President Thomas Bach says Grabar-Kitarović is a good fit for the job.

“Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović will bring rich and diverse skills and experience, including at the very highest levels of government and international relations,” said Bach. He also noted her experience as a member of the commission already, which selected Brisbane to host the 2032 Games.

The chair of the commission for the 2032 decision, Kristin Kloster from Norway, had to vacate the post in July when she was elected to the IOC Executive Board. EB members are not permitted to be members of the future Games commissions under new rules.

“I would like to continue to build on the great work begun under Kristin’s leadership. It is an exciting chance to develop innovative ways to steer the Olympic Games into the future and explore the challenges facing upcoming hosts, such as climate change,” says Grabar-Kitarović in an IOC release.

The commission has not set any timetable for selecting a 2036 host, those Games still 15 years away, but the next to be selected by the commission. Following the new process of collaboration and dialogue, the commission is supposed to take its time to hear from interested cities in the coming years. Ideally the process will result in a consensus candidate subject to approval by vote of the full IOC.

The countries which have been mentioned as possible hosts for 2036 include India, Indonesia, China, Russia, Qatar, Germany and Spain, along with a possible bid from Africa.

The seat on the commission held by Grabar-Kitarović will be filled by IOC member and World Triathlon President Marisol Casado. Other members of the panel include Richard Pound, Paul Tergat, Lingwei Li, Luis Mejia, Filomena Fortes, Sara Walker and Andrew Parsons.

Grabar-Kitarović, 53, can serve as an IOC member until age 70. Her membership is not linked to any sport or NOC functions.

Given her age and background, Grabar-Kitarović will enter the mix of IOC members who may come under consideration for IOC president. Bach will leave office in 2025 after 12 years.

Last week, Bach named Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe to lead the IOC Coordination Commission for 2032. The Olympian swimmer is now minister for sport and may be considered for the IOC presidency.


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