New Faces for 2026 Evaluation Team

(ATR) IOC member in Romania Octavian Morariu will lead the Winter Olympic bid inquiry.

(ATR) Some fresh faces are named to the IOC Evaluation Commission for the 2026 Winter Olympics.

IOC member in Romania Octavian Morariu will lead the panel, his first high-level assignment since joining the IOC in 2013. He’s a former president of the Romanian NOC. He’s a member of the IOC co comm for Beijing 2022.

He’ll be joined by just two other IOC members. Kristin Kloster Aasen of Norway is a vp of the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of Sport. She’s been an IOC member since 2017.

Hong Zhang from China is a member of IOC Athletes Commission and gold medalist in speedskating at the 2014 Winter Olympics. She became an IOC member in 2018.

The rest of the commission includes some Winter Olympic veterans from stakeholders in the Games.

Hee Byeom Lee is the CEO of PyeongChang 2018, filling the slot reserved often for an executive of the most recent Games.

Roman Kumpost of the Czech NOC represents the interests of the National Olympic Committees.

Heike Groesswang is representing the Association of International Olympic Winter Sports Federations. She is secretary general of the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation.

Marianna Davis of the U.S. is the International Paralympic Committee representative.

José Luis Marco of Argentina has served on evaluation commissions for the 2002, 2010 and 2014 Winter Games and on the co comm for Vancouver 2010 and currently Beijing 2022.

The eight-member commission is the smallest in number named to evaluate the winter bids. Usually more IOC members are included. It is gender balanced.

The smaller size reflects the new approach the IOC is taking with the 2026 selection process. For the past year the IOC has engaged prospective candidate cities in a series of briefings and consultations. The objective was to find ways to make the winter games a good fit for cities proposing to host them.

A smaller commission and a truncated bid process saves money and resources for both IOC and bid cities, another intended consequence of the changes.

Earlier this month the IOC declared three bids would be accepted for the candidature phase. Calgary, Milan/Cortina d’Ampezzo and Stockholm now have until Jan. 11 to file written bids to the IOC.

Calgary has the prospect of a referendum in November. Leaders of the bid acknowledge a yes vote is needed to continue the campaign.

The Evaluation Commission will inspect the cities in March to April, followed by a report to the IOC membership. That report is due one month ahead of the IOC Session in Lausanne where the decision will be made the last week of June.

Reported by Ed Hula.