IOC Chief Proposes Sweeping Olympic Bid Changes; Rules Out Bid City Visits

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will propose sweeping changes to the Olympic bid process hoping to attract larger fields of candidates.

Consultations with invited prospective bid cities and a flexible sport program will be discussed at an all-members meeting to be held December in Monaco as part of IOC President Thomas Bach’s Agenda 2020 – a series of reforms for the Olympic movement.

“What we did in the past was sending out the paper at a certain point in time and saying ‘if you want to bid for the Games, here are the conditions you have to fulfill if you want to organize the Games. So you’d better tick all of the boxes in the questionnaire because otherwise you have no chance,'” Bach explained after meeting with his Executive Board in Montreux, Switzerland this week.

“What we want to do in the future is we want to invite potential bidding cities there to study how the Olympic Games would fit best into their social, sport, economical and ecological environment.

“And then present this plan to us and then we are ready to discuss and give our advice rather than just judging what has been presented to us.

“A dialog will lead to even more transparency,” he explained.

Additionally, Bach said a recommendation will be tabled to add flexibility to the sport programme which could be modified to suit an individual host city making the prospect more attractive – and affordable – to the host.

These recommendations come in the wake of several dropped bids for the 2022 Olympic Games – most recently by Oslo, Norway earlier this month when Parliament refused to fund the venture as public support plummeted. Constituents feared huge cost overruns consistent with the $52 billion spent for the Sochi Games, and were offended by what seemed to be exorbitant demands by the IOC in technical manuals provided.

Earlier in the campaign, bids from Krakow, Lviv and Stockholm dropped out of the race with various socio-economic concerns. Only Beijing and Almaty Kazakhstan remain in the weakest bidding field in recent years.

Bach and other members of the IOC have blamed themselves for the recent backlash, saying that a failure in communications has been the cause.

In July, IOC Executive Director Gilbert Felli said “in the communications, and that’s the lesson from this campaign here, we lost good cities because of the bad perception of the IOC.”

“So we have to learn our lesson and the ones to blame is the IOC.”

Despite the weak field for 2022, Bach has already explained that the campaign will not be reopened or changed but he is optimistic about the 2024 Summer Games.

“We see very strong interest in different parts of the world,” Bach said.

“We are very happy with the many contacts we have with the many NOC’s who show strong interest in 2024”

Bach also surprisingly revealed today that the IOC will not table a recommendation to reinstate bid city visits by individual voting members, something that has been requested by members so that they could better evaluate the candidates and make a more informed choice. Bach himself had started this dialog during his election campaign last year.

Such visits were banned in the aftermath of the Salt Lake City vote-buying scandal in 1998 when several members were disciplined. Instead, an appointed Evaluation Commission organizes a visit to each city and prepares a detailed report for the other members.

The Monaco session for Agenda 2020 will be held on December 8th and 9th where a wide range of reforms and recommendations will be proposed on three themes including sustainability, credibility and youth. The launch of an Olympic TV channel will be discussed along with measures to strengthen the governance of the IOC and Olympic Movement.

At the following session in Kuala Lumpur in July, members will elect either Almaty or Beijing to host the 2022 Olympic Games.