(ATR) After revamping the 2026 Winter Olympic bidding procedure, the IOC is set to overhaul its host city selection process for the 2030 and 2032 Games.
In April 2018, president Thomas Bach insisted the IOC had "turned the page" on Olympic candidatures after trouble-hit bidding processes for the 2022 and 2024 Games.
Agenda 2020 reforms were superseded by the launch in February 2018 of a fresh package of reforms to revamp the IOC’s Olympic bidding and delivery model. Labeled ‘The New Norm’, it was a set of 118 reforms designed to slash Games delivery costs for candidate cities.
But a year on, in the wake of a handful of withdrawals from the initial seven-city 2026 bidding contest, the IOC has decided to again reboot its candidature procedure.
Speaking to press Wednesday after a two-day IOC executive board meeting, Bach suggested the previous bidding revamp had not gone far enough.
He said major reforms of the procedure had gained momentum and allowed the IOC to get its message across about bidding and organizational costs, with plenty of interest in the 2030 and 2032 Games. The IOC chief admitted the 2026 procedure had "faced some challenges".
"We have to acknowledge that times are continuing to change. We want to be on the top of this development. This is why we discussed further steps to make the candidature procedure even more flexible and targeted and more dialogue-oriented," Bach told reporters.
A new IOC working group led by Bach’s trusted lieutenant John Coates has been assigned the task of coming up with a new package of measures to transform Olympic bidding.
The five-member panel representing all continents also includes Danka Bartekova of Slovakia, China’s Lingwei Li, Gerardo Werthein of Argentina and Lydia Nsekera of Burundi.
The IOC president ruled out any radical change in the way decisions were made in appointing host cities, including taking that power away from the membership and giving it to the executive board, a process followed by some sports organizations.
"The Olympic Games is too big and too important that you could have an arrangement with a city without a public discussion and without anybody knowing except maybe the EB," he said.
"This is not our goal because we want this to be transparent. Being presented as a fait accompli, where nobody knows who's talking with who about what… this is not going to work."
Instead, the working group is charged with looking at increasing flexibility in the bid procedure, extending the dialogue timeframe as part of the invitation phase used in the 2026 process, targeting certain cities and regions to encourage them to bid and reviewing the timing of host city decisions.
Bach said the group had been given carte blanche to organize their work, urging them to be "creative and effective at the same time".
"We want to make sure we have consultation with the membership at the earliest possible stage," he added.
By the time of the IOC Session in June, Bach said he hoped the working group would at the least deliver "some guidelines, some direction, some principles".
"But I don’t want to put limits to their efforts… if they would come up with a full solution for me it would even be more welcome. I have to admit this is very ambitious."
Reported by Mark Bissonin Lausanne.
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