IOC Chief Talks Olympic Bid Flexibility

(ATR) Thomas Bach has not shut the door on Olympic host city elections, despite expected changes to bidding procedures.

(ATR) Thomas Bach has not shut the door on Olympic host city elections, despite changes to bidding procedures expected to be rubber stamped this month.

A new IOC working group led by Bach’s trusted lieutenant John Coates is set to propose a new package of measures to transform Olympic bidding at the IOC Session in Lausanne in two weeks’ time. The IOC is aiming to introduce even more flexibility when it comes to choosing Olympic hosts.

Speaking in a teleconference with reporters on Friday, the IOC chief dismissed suggestions that changes to Olympic bidding procedures could spell the end of head to head contests between two candidates at an IOC Session.

After a series of withdrawals, only Stockholm-Are and Milan-Cortina will be on the ballot sheet in the IOC election of the 2026 Winter Olympics on June 24.

"We have not excluded at all," Bach said of the revamp of the Olympic bidding procedures to come, which he said "gives the IOC more flexibility in different directions".

"If the situation is coming that we see such a competition makes sense and the candidates appreciate this competition then yes the door is open," he said, suggesting that several candidates could present to the IOC membership in a bid to secure the Olympics in 2030 or 2032.

"On the other hand we have also the opportunity that the executive board upon recommendation of the [future host] commission then would propose only one candidate."

In the dialogue phase of bidding, Bach raised the possibility that "one of the cities we could be talking with could be considered to be so outstanding by this ‘future hosts’ commission and the executive board that in fact it could be just one candidate".

Bach last month ruled out any radical change in the way decisions were made in appointing host cities, including taking that power away from the IOC membership and handing it to the executive board.

The timing of host city decisions is another element of the bidding procedure subject to change at next month’s IOC Session.

The traditional seven-year preparation period for the Games mandated in the Olympic Charter following a host city decision has been virtually scrapped.

Bach said decisions on the choice of a host city could be taken earlier or even later than that timeframe. "We could adjust to the situation in the world but also to the situation of candidate cities," he said.

And the IOC chief appeared to pour cold water on the idea mooted by his long-time ally Coates last week at a meeting of business leaders in Brisbane.

The president of the Australian Olympic Committee said that if Queensland confirmed a bid for the 2032 Summer Olympics, it could be elected host as early as the IOC Session in Tokyo next year – if bidding changes were ratified on June 25.

"First of all we have to get approval from the IOC session for these reforms and then we can start to get a clearer picture on the timing. Then it always takes two to tango," Bach said.

"We have not started any candidature procedure. We are many years ahead of 2032… 13 years ahead. It’s too early to speak about favorites.

"Having said this, I was pretty impressed on my visit in Brisbane and Queensland. So if there would be a candidature from Brisbane and Queensland, given the hardware and infrastructure and the software, the love of the Aussies for sport and organizational skills, they would be a very strong candidate," he added.

AIBA Problems ‘Unique’

Bach commented on the Olympic boxing federation’s ongoing crisis, which could result in the collapse of the current leadership ahead of the IOC Session. Around the Rings has been told that moves are afoot to replace the interim boxing president.

"I do not think we can really compare the AIBA situation to any other international federations," Bach told reporters.

"The AIBA issues are many fold, an aggregation of challenges and we cannot see this in any other international federation. I hope it will stay like this so that the AIBA situation will remain a unique experience."

Last month, the IOC banned AIBA form involvement in the Tokyo 2020 boxing competition after an inquiry into the federation’s governance and financial affairs ruled that it remained mired in problems.

At the IOC Session, a task force set up by Bach is expected to propose the qualification process for Tokyo 2020 "so that they [athletes] know what they have to expect", as well as plans to organize the Olympic boxing competition.

Reported by Mark Bisson

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