Behind The Olympic Bid Spin – BidIndex 2018 Debrief

With the 2018 Olympic Winter Games bid behind us – it’s time to compare what we thought we knew with what was reality. During the campaign, for competitive reasons, inside information is scarce and perceptions are spun by the spin doctors. Even voting International Olympic Committee (IOC) members keep their cards close to their chests to protect individual motives and agendas.

But when the voting is done and the decision is made – reality is observed.

BidIndex 2018 Results

BidIndex 2018 Results

You probably already know that GamesBids.com’s BidIndex is designed to see through perceptions and determine what bids are strong by measuring them up to past successful bids. It looks at IOC voting patterns to determine how the organization tends to vote as a group based on about 100 bid fundamentals.

Of course, PyeongChang had the highest BidIndex score – and the South Korean bid won the election. So it worked, right? Well, many predicted a PyeongChang victory so while BidIndex was successful – at the surface it isn’t a huge accomplishment. But we can dig deeper.

BidIndex is designed so that bids from different campaigns can be compared to each other, so we could compare PyeongChang 2018 with PyeongChang 2014 or any other indexed Summer or Winter Games bid.

Of the 15 bids that were included in elections over the past four campaigns, PyeongChang 2018 ranked second (66.17), just behind Paris 2012 (66.18) by the smallest possible margin (Paris was edged out by London after Prime Minister Tony Blair and a strong presentation put the U.K. over the top – after the final BidIndex score was assigned). The Korean bid’s victory this time was clearly the most decisive in recent decades so the high overall ranking is appropriate.

PyeongChang’s BidIndex score was also progressively higher this time than in the bid’s previous two campaigns in 2010 (60.05) and 2014 (64.99) which accurately depicts the improving results.

Turning back to 2018 – the IOC gave Annecy only seven votes, one of the poorest results for a bid in several years. The French bid’s BidIndex score was 54.86 – 14th in our list of 15, only ahead of Moscow 2012. This seems to be an accurate depiction as well.

So far, so good.

But many would argue that BidIndex missed the mark on Munich – while the city placed second as BidIndex suggested, the city garnered only 25 of a possible 95 votes yet carried a final BidIndex score of 65.83 – 3rd on our top 15 list.

Consider this. The final index was derived a week prior to the election, and a lot happens during the final week of the campaign. Many observers have commented that PyeongChang’s final presentation on the last day was one of the best ever – and certainly the winner for 2018.

Let’s frame this with numbers.

Terrence Burns, president of Helios Partners, was responsible for most of the dialogue and narrative of the PyeongChang’s final presentation – he is a seasoned veteran in this space. In an interview, Burns revealed to SportsFeatures.com that he was told the final presentation swung “6 to 10” votes to the Korean bid. Indeed, Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) president Yong-sung Park said that one day prior to the election he estimated his bid would receive 53 to 55 votes; as many as 10 votes lower than the final tally of 63.

Assuming most of those votes swung from Munich it becomes apparent that one week earlier, when BidIndex was published, the race was much closer.

Last month BidIndex demonstrated that Munich was gaining momentum bringing the bid closer to PyeongChang. While now it’s clear this momentum evaporated during the final hours, there is really no evidence to prove or disprove whether the momentum actually existed prior to that.

But more evidence has been gathered on Annecy and mid-campaign trends for the French bid. GamesBids.com learned from a source inside the bid that under new CEO Charles Beigbeder’s leadership, the bid was able to gain “about seven votes”. With Annecy’s final election tally also at seven he admitted it was possible under former chief Edgar Grospiron that there were “zero” votes of support.

Immediately before Grospiron’s resignation Annecy’s BidIndex score was at 51.44 – the lowest in the campaign. When Beigbeder took charge, the number increased until it settled at 54.86 before the election.

So make of it what you will. BidIndex is on a bit of a hot streak; last time correctly suggesting that Rio was the IOC’s most likely choice for 2016 even when most of the money was on Chicago, and this time successfully picking a more favoured PyeongChang. In all indexed campaigns so far, the BidIndex “favourite” has never done worse than second.

Bring on the 2020 bids for another round.