Monday marks the start of what promises to be an interesting week for the 2024 Olympic bid process.
On Wednesday, the first phase of bid books are due from Budapest, Los Angeles, Paris and Rome, the four remaining cities in the race to host the Games eight years from now. The International Olympic Committee (IC) expects the documents to be delivered to their headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland – and because of their extreme importance, bid executives often attend in person to participate in a symbolic handover.
This year, however, they may need directions. Last week the IOC headquarters adjacent to Chateau de Vidy were vacated in preparation for demolition to make way for the new Olympic House set for delivery in 2020. Hundreds of IOC employees are now instead housed across town near the Olympic Museum at Ouchy.
But when they knock, will anyone be home?
On Friday the second Winter Youth Olympic Games kicked off in Lillehammer* – and presumably there will be a contingent of IOC executives and employees on hand for the important events in Norway. Even some bid committee members will likely be on site for their various Olympic and sport capacities – but not to represent their bid. The IOC, as part of its efforts to cut bidding costs as mandated by Agenda 2020 reforms, has mandated that no Olympic bid promotion or lobbying take place in Lillehammer during the Games.
But of course, Bach said this week, bid team members are welcome to attend the Games. Still, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo canceled her travel plans to Norway at the last minute when warned that it may be frowned upon.
French IOC members Tony Estanguet, Guy Drut and French NOC President Denis Masseglia attended the Games as part of their nation’s delegation, the PR firm hired by the Paris 2024 bid committee noted in a press release without the word “Paris” or numbers “2024” written once within. It was a valiant effort by the communications team to show the executives’ enthusiasm for the Olympic movement without any risk that their involvement would cross the confusingly ambiguous line.
Assuredly someone from the IOC will stay behind to receive the critical bid documents, and bid teams will see that they are delivered safe and as scheduled.
We can expect that by Thursday the IOC will give the bids the go-ahead to release their documents to the public after those in the Lausanne headquarters agree that everything measures up to expectations. The process has changed this time around since the Agenda 2020 reforms set the stage for what the IOC says will be a more efficient system. Instead of a preliminary questionnaire response that used to provide a comprehensive overview of bid plans, only to be followed by a deeper-dive months later – Wednesday’s submission will include only a more detailed “first phase” of bid topics including vision, Games concept and strategy. Two more phases will follow in the remaining months of campaigning.
Included in the documents to be delivered this week are various guarantees from multiple levels of governments that underwrite and support the Games should the city win the right to host. At that time we’ll get a much better picture of each city’s vision for the Games.
Paris is setting its own schedule and has already planned a media event on Wednesday afternoon to unveil the project. Estanguet will be back in Paris to lead the event.
On Tuesday LA 2024 will be unveiling its logo and branding look in downtown Los Angeles just hours before it’s all released in the phase 1 bid documents anyways. Rome showed its Colosseum inspired logo at a presentation in December while Paris revealed an Eiffel Tower evoking emblem just last week when it was projected on the Arc de Triomphe. There has been no word from Budapest on whether we’ll get a sneak peek of its design, yet we were treated with a nostalgic look at rejected Hamburg’s 2024 bid logo last month.
Also set for this week is Paris’ Website launch on Thursday, and there has been a hint that LA may relaunch its site along with the new branding that has been promised.
Next week the Lillehammer Youth Olympic Games will conclude when the torch is passed to Lausanne as the next Winter host in 2020 – the same year the IOC will begin to occupy its new Olympic House in the same city.
It’ll be a busy week, try to keep up!
*Yes, there is a Youth Olympic Games, and the Winter version of the IOC’s best unintentionally kept secret is now underway in Lillehammer – and it’s worth a look. Why not check out the future stars of PyeongChang 2018 and Beijing 2022 (the next two scheduled Olympic Winter Games) today at lillehammer2016.com?
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.