ATR Golden 25 - IOC President Thomas Bach #5

(ATR) Halfway through his term, big challenges loom in 2018 and beyond for the IOC President.

(ATR) IOC President Thomas Bach enters the second half of his eight-year mandate with accomplishments. The next four years bring challenges that the status quo can't solve.

Bach is number 5 in the 2018 edition of the Around the Rings Golden 25. Published since 1997, the Golden 25 is an annual review of people, events and issues expected to influence the Olympic Movement in the year ahead.

The 2018 Winter Olympics loom in just a month and seem destined to take place, despite escalating tensions between the U.S. and North Korea.

Bach has consistently downplayed any threat to the Games. He has steered clear from any suggestion the IOC has a backup plan or could consider cancelling the Winter Olympics.

Unless hostilities take a turn for the worse, deflecting questions about sluggish ticket sales and the Russian doping situation may be the worst he faces.

Bach has made a mark with Olympic Agenda 2020. The 40-item list of reforms and policies was enacted in 2014, his second year as president.

Yet the changes have failed to erase a stigma that seems to be repelling more cities than are attracted to bidding for the biggest of the IOC prizes: the Summer and Winter Olympics.

Agenda 2020 could never have predicted this year’s simultaneous choice of Paris for 2024 and Los Angeles for 2028. It’s a great fortune for the IOC to avoid a possibly tortured bidding for 2028. But the move is only a stop-gap measure as Bach and the IOC try to find the groove for the host city for Winter 2026.

Once that decision is made, how does the IOC find a host for 2032, the next summer city after Los Angeles?

In 2018 Bach is at the epicenter of the earthquake shaking the world of Olympic sport over doping in Russia. A fix for PyeongChang takes care of 2018, but how does Bach bring Russia back to the fold for Tokyo 2020?

The Olympic Channel Bach included in Olympic Agenda 2020 is now a reality. The availability of content across multiple languages, worldwide, at any time, is a major investment by the IOC that will require ongoing support.

Billed as a path to draw younger people to sport or to become Olympic fans, the Olympic Channel is not the only solution. The new year brings a new edition of the Summer Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires as the IOC reviews its impact on cultivating new generations of Olympic devotees and athletes. Bach and colleagues know more likely needs to be done. An Olympic fencing champion, Bach enjoys connecting with athletes as part of the job. Listening to their ideas is one way to discover how to change.

Internally, Bach can only await the outcome of judicial inquiries for a half-dozen current and former IOC members at the IOC Ethics Commission. It’s the most since the Salt Lake City scandal in 1999. And the list could grow in 2018. The same division of the U.S. Justice Department that is prosecuting the ex-FIFA leaders in New York is said to be investigating the circumstances of the charges in Brazil against Carlos Nuzman. The former leader of the Rio 2016 Olympics was an IOC member in 2009 when he is accused in a scheme to buy IOC votes for the Rio Olympic bid.

Bach also will give the green light for consideration of new IOC members. Names could perhaps include FIFA President Gianni Infantino and IAAF President Sebastian Coe.

Scandal over sexual assault and harassment has cast a dark shadow over gymnastics. The IOC could soon find itself in the spotlight to demand accountability from federations and NOCs across all Olympic sports. Bach can take the lead to ensure all hear the message.

The IOC President is 64 and eligible to serve until age 80, elected a member in 1991. He can be given a four-year extension of his mandate in 2021.

2017 ranking: #5

Reported by Ed Hula.