Buenos Aires, Argentina – On Wednesday night International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge held his final solo press conference of his 12 year tenure.
He said, “I’m not looking at the past, I’m looking at my future life forward, and I will continue to be associated as an honorary member of the International Olympic Committee.”
And at that, he launched the formation of the next decade of the Olympic movement. Over the next week at the organization’s 125th all-members session, the IOC members will choose a summer Games partner from Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo; they’ll decide the fate of the original Olympic sport of wrestling; and then they’ll choose Rogge’s successor from among six diverse candidates.
Throngs of international media – including large contingents from Japan, Spain and Turkey – have descended upon the city of Buenos Aires looking for clues on how the Olympic movement will evolve and who will be behind the evolution.
On Saturday, the IOC will elect the host city for the 2020 Olympic Games; a race so close that very few dare to predict the outcome. The Buenos Aires Hilton is under high security – the entire complex is dedicated to the session and is ready to welcome high-profile dignitaries including Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Spain’s Crown Prince Felipe and Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Erdogen who will lead help lead their national bids.
On Sunday, the IOC will discuss which, if any sport should be added to the 2020 Olympic Programme. Either Squash, Baseball and Softball, or Wrestling – a sport that was just dropped by the IOC Executive board this year – could be added to the Games. Or, by vote, they could add none. But this contest is so lopsided that most insiders refer to it as the ‘wrestling vote’, meaning that it’s likely that the vote will become a referendum on whether or not to accept wrestling back into the Games. The other two sports are an after-thought.
Then the Presidential vote will be held Tuesday. Germany’s Thomas Bach, Ukraine’s Sergei Bubka, Puerto Rico’s Richard Carrion, Switzerland’s Denis Oswald, Singapore’s Ng Ser Miang and Taiwan’s CK Wu are up to replace Rogge and could serve eight or twelve years. Often described as the most powerful position in international sport, the new IOC President will have a lot to say about how the Olympic movement – and sport in general – will change over the next decade.
On Friday, the IOC members will be treated to an opening ceremony at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, then they’ll get straight to business.
GamesBids.com will be reporting from Buenos Aires throughout the week.