Athens Targeted To Host 2021 International Olympic Committee Session

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thursday announced that it has selected Athens. Greece as a possible host city for its 2021 all-members Session.

Olympic Rings hang cliffside overlooking PyeongChang 2018 Ski Jump venue (GamesBids Photo)

Olympic Rings hang cliffside overlooking PyeongChang 2018 Ski Jump venue (GamesBids Photo)

IOC Communications Director Christian Klaue said following an Executive Board meeting being held in Lausanne, “the IOC EB has asked the administration to undergo a feasibility study to have the IOC Session in 2021 in Athens.”

“It is a more targeted approach,” Klaue said of the new process to choose a host city for the event.

Klaue stressed that it will be up to the IOC Session scheduled for the end of June to approve Athens as the host city after the feasibility study has concluded.  No other city is currently under consideration.

In the past, multiple cities have bid for the opportunity to host when the event occurs in odd years.  Even-year Sessions are held in the Olympic host city,  just ahead of the Games.

The odd-year Session is often a high profile event because it features the election of the Summer or Winter Olympic host city on the agenda.  Bid city delegates often include heads of state and other well-known athletes, celebrities and government officials.  Many of the 100-or-so IOC members also carry the same status.

But Los Angeles has already been awarded the 2028 Olympic Games in 2017 as part of a double-allocation with Paris 2024, and no host city election is scheduled to occur in 2021.

The most important item on the 2021 agenda will be the election of the IOC President – a vote critical for the Olympic Movement but one that doesn’t receive a lot of mainstream attention.

Current IOC President Thomas Bach will be seeking a second four-year term after reaching the end of his initial eight-year tenure – and it is widely expected, even two-years out, that he will be re-elected.

Klaue clarified, however, that Bach has yet do decide whether he will seek a final term.

“We looked into different options and we thought in 2021, which is a symbolic year with the election of the IOC president… we thought that it was a good place to go because Greece, as you know, is the place where the Olympic Games were born,” Klaue said.

“It is a very good city and a good place to hold this session.”

A sign over the Lausanne Train Station boast its "Olympic City" status (GB Photo)

A sign over the Lausanne Train Station boast its “Olympic Capital” status (GB Photo)

The next IOC Session is scheduled to take place at the end of June in Lausanne, Switzerland – the home of the IOC’s new headquarters that will be officially opened the same week.  The election of the 2026 Winter Games host from between Italy’s Milano-Cortina and Sweden’s Stockholm Åre will feature at the event.

Milan had been elected host city for the Session, but had to step back from the role after Italy decided to bid for the Games instead.  An IOC rule prohibits host city candidates from being elected in their home country.

Athens has hosted the Session seven times, most recently in 2004 alongside the Olympics that year, and previously in 1978 when Los Angeles and Sarajevo were awarded the 1984 editions of the Summer and Winter Games.

The Executive Board also decided Thursday to jump on the success of the Olympism in Action Forum, that was fist held last year in Buenos Aires ahead of the Youth Olympic Games, and plan a second edition in Lausanne in 2023.  Klaue said the IOC will look into the option of holding the event in Luasanne every four years, possibly in conjunction with another event to ensure strong attendance.

Robert Livingstone

About Robert Livingstone

Robert Livingstone is a senior editor, award-winning journalist and author, covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. He is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians. Follow him @enotsgnivil