Dutch IOC Member Rekindles Fire of Olympic Bid

(ATR) Camiel Eurlings tells Around the Rings a Dutch Olympic bid may be revived following Agenda 2020 reforms.

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 11:  Cyclists make their way through the city streets on May 11, 2009 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The 750,000 people who live in Amsterdam own over 600,000 bicycles.  (Photo by Mark Dadswell/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 11: Cyclists make their way through the city streets on May 11, 2009 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The 750,000 people who live in Amsterdam own over 600,000 bicycles. (Photo by Mark Dadswell/Getty Images)

(ATR) Camiel Eurlings tells Around the Rings a Dutch Olympic bid may be revived in the wake of Agenda 2020 reforms.

Two years ago, the Netherlands government and Dutch NOC abandoned ambitions to bring the Olympics to Amsterdam in 2028 due to economic issues. The long-term bid plan was spearheaded by the Olympisch Vuur (Olympic Fire) group.

Eurlings told ATR that the IOC’s reforms to the bidding procedure aimed at reducing costs and introducing more flexibility in the process, starting at the invitation phase, is encouraging news for the Dutch.

The 41-year-old former KLM Airlines CEO said the Agenda 2020 measures passed at the landmark Session in Monaco would make the Games "cheaper and more flexible."

"This is clearly a tailor-made approach for smaller countries that have to be very prudent, that don’t have so much money to spend and thereby having to rely more on existing accommodations [venues]," he said.

During the IOC Session, head of the bidding procedure commission John Coates drove home the message that regional bids were possible but events would only be permitted to be staged in more than one city and even another country in "exceptional circumstances" to deliver sustainable Games with a positive legacy.

Eurlings pointed to the fact that the Netherlands has many medium-sized cities "very close to each other," including the quartet of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht and the Hague.

Underlining how easy it would be for athletes, officials and Olympic fans to move between these cities, he said: "If you take the high-speed train from Amsterdam to Rotterdam, it takes 21 minutes."

In big metropolitan cities, journey times from north to south are much longer, he added.

"That’s why I appreciate this approach, the flexibility that is given to organize [the Olympics] over more cities throughout a country. Look even more to existing accommodation and also find flexibility in the size of the accommodations [venues]."

"For a medium-size country, the size can be smaller than for a huge country. It helps us making it cheaper and avoiding white elephants," he added.

Eurlings, who chaired the Dutch Olympic Flame Alliance (2011-2013), suggested the Dutch government and the country’s NOC will revisit the idea of an Olympic bid.

"What we are going to do in the Netherlands is we are just going to think ‘what do these new measures, these new rules mean. If ever we would run… what could the positive effect of these measures be?

"I am convinced if we draw the conclusion that Games could now be much cheaper, then it could very well be that the flame is starting to burn much stronger again."

He said the ‘Olympisch Vuur’ never went out.

"We always said the flame is now very small. It keeps on burning. You never know," he said.

"I have seen very positive reactions. Also people in politics said, ‘Okay, let the sports world just think about it.' We are open to the discussions.

"I think that what Thomas Bach has been doing, and he really deserves a lot of credit, is exactly the right thing and it is very well perceived, so I think it is a new chance to start the thinking and we will draw conclusions later on," he added.

Eurlings entered the IOC last year, a candidate hand-picked by the then-king-in-waiting, Willem-Alexander, to succeed him on the Olympic body.

However, combining his chief executive role with his commitments as a new IOC member was a strain. He left KLM in the autumn and now is ever more involved in his IOC activities – he sits on the finance, marketing and international relations commissions – and representing the sporting interests of the Netherlands.

"The commitment was always very big. The thing was my time was extremely scarce," Eurlings admits of juggling the workloads of the two roles.

"Now I am more free to go around the country and visit colleagues all around the world. And really, I love it. I am honored and feel privileged that I can do this."

Reported by Mark Bisson

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