Bach Calls For Overhaul of Olympic Bid Process

A day after International Olympic Committee (IOC) Vice President Thomas Bach distributed his manifesto to fellow members that outline his campaign to become the organization’s President, he outlined his concerns of the host city bidding process and his plans to change it should he be elected.

Bach’s Manifesto states a primary goal “to keep the Olympic Games the most attractive event in the world.”

“In order to do this we must ensure that organizing the Games is attractive and feasible for as many cities and countries in the world as possible, with different social, cultural and political backgrounds,” Bach told a group of international reporters Friday.

“And in this respect we may have to reconsider our bidding procedures, to make it more encouraging while, of course, ensuring the operational excellence.”

The 59-year-old President of the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) and Olympic Champion in fencing is running against Ser Miang Ng of Singapore, Richard Carrion of Puerto Rico, CK Wu of Taiwan, Sergey Bubka of the Ukraine and Denis Oswald of Switzerland. The applications window closed Thursday and the final election will take place September 10 in Buenos Aires.

“The bidding process should be a real invitation for candidatures and should show that we embrace the different social, cultural, and political backgrounds.

“We embrace this diversity which then would also be reflected in the organizing of the Games; and therefore we may have to see whether our bidding procedure is requesting too much, too early.

“So maybe there is a way where we can ensure operational excellence but also allow for more creativity for more diversity in the approach for organizing the Games and to make it clear that the standards of one part of the world are not applicable, that the Games have to reflect the diversity in our modern world.”

As part of that diversity, Bach looks forward to the participation of new regions.

“I think a feasible bid from Africa, the continent from which we have not organized an Olympic Games – that would be very, very much welcome.

But Bach is critical of the current system, a rigid set of rules that requires conformity and minute details – but with questionable value.

“[Currently] we need the Games plan ready seven years before the Games, and everybody in the bidding procedure behaves as this will be the real Games plan; and the moment the Games are allocated to a city the changes start.

“I wonder if we couldn’t save some costs and energy in being more flexible before and not require too much at the very early stage of a bidding procedure.

“And this way I think we would also see more creativity. We have the transfer of knowledge at this time which is an excellent one, but on top of this we are organizing, sending out, we have questionnaires of I don’t know how many hundreds-of-questions and things and then we are ending up with bid books that all read a little bit similar because they’re all interpreting the same kinds of questions.

“We need to be more open, more creative and more flexible.”

Bach also said he would consider changing the process by which the IOC maintains the sport program, a currently controversial set of rules that resulted in the recent removal of wrestling from the Olympics triggering global outrage.

“I see the Olympic program like a jigsaw puzzle; all the pieces have to harmonize and have to fit together. You cannot just simply replace one piece or some pieces with others because you destroy the harmony of the whole picture.”

Bach and the other five candidates will have an opportunity to present their manifestos to the IOC membership at an extraordinary Session to be held in Lausanne in July.