Big Changes for Olympic Bids

(ATR) The IOC endorses a new, more flexible way to choose Olympic hosts.

(ATR) The IOC endorses a new, more flexible way to choose Olympic hosts.

The approved changes will place the IOC in constant dialogue with interested governments, National Olympic Committees and other organizations interested in hosting the Games.

The IOC now has flexibility to determine how far out they will award the Olympics and work with aspirant cities to refine their plans.

Gone are onerous requirements that were placed on the interested cities. In their place, rules that limit the amount of expensive construction of new permanent venues or infrastructure. The Olympic Charter, amended Wednesday at the IOC Session in Lausanne says new public works and venues "shall only be considered on the basis of sustainable legacy plans".

The process of selecting hosts for Olympic Games will be handled by two permanent IOC commissions, one for summer, the other for winter. The commissions will take the place of the evaluation commissions formed for each Games.

IOC President Thomas Bach must now decide the composition of two Future Host Commissions. The summer commission will include 10 members. The winter commission will have eight members.

Australian IOC member John Coates led the work paving the way for the commissions. He says that the next Olympic host city to fall under the new system will be the one chosen for the 2030 Winter Games.

Youth Olympic Games, summer and winter, will also follow the changed procedure.

"If I were 2030 I think the bullet in the starter’s gun has been fired," Coates advised.

"If one came out of the woodwork pretty soon we could look at that maybe in Athens" Coates said of the 2021 IOC Session now scheduled for the Greek capital.

"I certainly don’t think the [2020] Tokyo Session is realistic and I think in terms of governance you’ve got to make sure everyone’s got a chance to run at this," Coates said.

Sapporo, Japan and Salt Lake City, Utah are believed to be likely prospects for 2030.

But a city can’t put itself forward to bid by declaring a candidacy and completing IOC paperwork. Now the IOC plans to invite potential bids only after reviewing the circumstances they present. The idea is to engage the IOC earlier in the process, well before cities formally declare themselves candidates.

"This is not just putting up a candidature and rolling along for a couple of years," Coates said. "This should lead to a much more thorough appraisal at a much earlier stage."

Coates says the new regime will allow the IOC to shape Olympic bids that address geographic, strategic, economic or societal issues.

While the IOC Session will be required to approve host cities as has always been the case, the new selection process could result in just one candidate being put to an IOC vote. That would settle a delicate issue that results when multiple bids are on the ballot: only one can win.

The selection of Milan-Cortina this week for the 2026 Winter Games is an apt example. There’s joy in Italy over the prospect of hosting a third Winter Olympics, the last in Turin in 2006. But Sweden, an important nation in the Olympic Movement, has only hosted the Games once in 1912. It’s tried a number of times since then, including the bid from Stockholm that was handily defeated June 24 by Milan.

Under the new bidding process, that ill-fated Stockholm bid could well be the last bid deemed a loser by an IOC vote.

Written and reported in Lausanne by Ed Hula

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