Reporting from the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco – “You can inspire others to change, only if you’re ready to change yourself,” IOC President Thomas Bach told International Olympic Committee (IOC) members who gathered in Monaco Sunday evening in advance of their review and vote on a set of historical reforms that will help move the Olympic movement to its next chapter.
A set of 40 proposals address many facets of the Games from the site selection process to the sports program and even a new Olympic digital channel. Initially introduced over a year ago during Bach’s election campaign under the moniker “Agenda 2020”, the potential reforms come at a crucial time. Cities have lost the confidence to host the Games, the Youth Olympic Games have struggled to achieve desired goals and management of the sport program has become tenuous.
“If we do not address these challenges here and now, we will be hit with them very soon,” Bach told members.
“We want to be the leaders of change, and not the object of change.”
A year ago Bach commissioned members to explore key areas of the movement in order to map out the future, and the future starts this week in Monaco.
“We have a long, long procedure behind us and now I’m really looking forward to decision time,” Bach said Saturday.
“I feel like an athlete before the start of a final.
“You have been training and preparing for more than a year now and then you’re really longing for the moment when the competition starts, here when the session starts.”
The IOC membership will spend Monday and Tuesday debating each proposal one-by-one, and those that require charter changes will require a two-thirds majority, by show of hands, to pass. Bach expects the process to be quick due to the comprehensive process to fully vet each proposal – but some of the more controversial changes are bound to cause division, and lively debate.
While this could become an historical date for the Olympics, there is a looming possibility that an even more historical event could pre-empt the proceedings.
Monaco’s Prince Albert, an IOC member, and Princess Charlene are expecting Royal twins due prior to Christmas. But the grand event could happen at any moment and the Principality is on call to launch a major celebration that will surely bring the city to a celebratory standstill.
“This is not in our hands, this is in the hands of somebody up there,” Bach explained.
“Prince Albert told me if I stand up in the middle of the session and leave it’s not because of you it’s because of something else.”
But it will soon by clear what that “something else” is. The Prince’s Palace has proclaimed:
“In celebration of the joyous arrival of these two children, and without distinction, forty-two cannon shots (twenty-one for each child) shall be fired from the Fort Antoine; church bells shall ring for fifteen minutes, followed by boat horns.”
But the IOC work will go on.
“It’s the real thing, the decision,” Bach said.
“So far it was discussion – this is like training, and then the decision is like competition.”
But while the IOC can plan and implement the reforms, Bach echoed this warning to the delegates Sunday night:
“If we want to strengthen the relevance of our Olympic message people have to hear our message; they have to believe our message; people have to get the message.”
A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.