2026 Evaluation Commission Ready for Road Trip

(ATR) The IOC preaches the “flexibility” of Agenda 2020 ahead of next week’s visit to Sweden.

(ATR) The IOC’s 2026 Evaluation Commission preaches "flexibility" ahead of next week’s visit to Sweden.

The 2026 bid process is the first to be run under the IOC’s Agenda 2020/The New Norm, which was approved by the IOC Session in February 2018.

The IOC says the new guidelines, designed to streamline the bidding process and make it less expensive to host the Games, are already delivering substantial benefits to the candidate cities and their projects.

"I think the key word from now on is flexibility. Flexibility meaning that we adapt to the cities and not the cities to us," Evaluation Commission chair Octavian Morariu told reporters during a conference call on Tuesday. "Flexibility in the sense that we must use existing venues or temporary units, flexibility in the sense that we maximize all the opportunities and the expertise and the knowledge that we find on the ground."

Stockholm-Are 2026 CEO Richard Brisius says Agenda 2020 is the reason his country is still in the running along with the Italian bid of Milan-Cortina.

"The new approach to bidding has been pivotal for us and the dialogue stage and the cooperation we’ve had with the IOC has been very, very helpful, not only in reducing costs but also in developing and fine tuning our bid, our concept, which we believe is really tailor-made for this new reality," Brisius told reporters.

The biggest question concerning the Swedish bid had been whether it would gain the support of the government. Elections in September resulted in months of negotiations until a coalition government was formed. But Brisius says all levels of the government are now on board.

"We have received assurances in the most positive way. The Prime Minister of Sweden was in the media a few weeks ago saying how he supports the project. It’s echoed in all our discussions with the government that they’re proceeding with this bid so we have all the assurances we’ve been asking for to this point and it’s all on track."

When asked if there was a specific timetable for Stockholm-Are to finalize government support, Olympic Games Executive Director Christophe Dubi returned to a familiar word.

"Flexibility is the key word and this is something we’ve used a lot because you have to adapt to circumstances," said Dubi. "What we have seen over the last few weeks is the project building up to a level where you have all the information required. But actually up until the day of the election we keep on receiving additional information. It is flexible and we know we can maximize those value propositions until the very decision of the IOC members."

The commission will be visiting every proposed venue in the country during a five-day trip that will take them to Are and Falun as well as Stockholm.

In response to a question from Around the Rings, Morariu said the existing venues and the budget were two of the "central points" he was focusing on during the visit, adding "I’d like to have confirmation that we are heading in the right direction."

"I guess I’m not worried about anything really," Brisius says. "But in saying that I want to quote the previous deputy secretary general of the United Nations, the Swede Jan Eliasson, who used to say ‘I’m an optimist but I worry a lot’. I will make sure this goes well for everyone who comes here and we’ll do our best."

The commission will visit Stockholm-Are from March 12 to 16 and Milan-Cortina from April 2 to 6. The Commission’s report will be made public ahead of the host city election, which will take place on June 24 during the 134th IOC Session in Lausanne.

Written by Gerard Farek

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