Reporting From Lausanne, Switzerland – International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach warned Thursday that the IOC could find itself among the Olympic bid ‘losers’ unless proposed changes to the site selection process are approved by the IOC Session membership next week.
A special working group led by Australian member John Coates has proposed a six-point reform package that would make the process more flexible by reducing time constraints in the Olympic Charter, allowing multi-city or multinational bids, and ultimately putting most of the selection effort in the hands of ongoing Future Host Commissions.
Bach has claimed that the current bid process fails because it creates “too many losers.”
When asked by GamesBids.com what the acceptable number of losers is, he said “in the best of the worlds, the number is zero.”
“We have seen the allocation for ’24 and ’28,” Bach added, pointing to the election of both Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028 bids with no contest and no losers after they were the only remaining cities in the 2024 race.
“You should not forget that you could also count in some cases at least the IOC among the losers.
“If you have this ongoing discussion, ‘do we continue a candidature?’, ‘what are the implications?’, ‘do we withdraw?’, and the referenda situation around – this is also not a very comfortable situation for the IOC and even less so that these “losers” that they just then lost this one election.
“You lose this candidate also for the next and maybe for the after next election.”
Bach further explained that the process isn’t intended to minimize candidates, but to keep candidates interested in future races.
“There is an exponential factor. You can not only look at this one decision, you also have to look to the future and minimizing the potential candidates cannot be the purpose of the candidature procedure.”
Coates told reporters Thursday that cities requiring a public referendum to approve an Olympics will be asked to hold the vote ahead of their bid submission. For the 2026 Games, both Sion in Switzerland and Calgary in Canada were defeated in referenda during the campaign, forcing them to withdraw – disrupting the race.
Innsbruck in Austria was defeated in a vote before applications were due into the IOC last year.
On Thursday the IOC Executive Board reviewed the proposed plans that were further revised since they were first presented in May. They also prepared the Charter amendments necessary to implement the new process should the Session members vote to approve it. They are expected to rubber-stamp the proposal.
Bach insists that the IOC members will remain the decision makers in the process, but their input may be limited to the approval of a single candidate proposed by the Executive Board as was the case when four African candidates for the 2022 Youth Olympics were narrowed to only Dakar in Senegal – a single option when it was time to vote last year.
Bach said “This whole new approach will respect the magic of the Games, and the flexibility is in fact the part of sustainability because if you cannot adapt then you will break.”
“We are sure with this new approach we can achieve this flexibility and can adapt better to geographical developments, economical developments, to the needs of potential host cities or host countries and therefore to ensure the relevance of the Olympic Games in the long term.”
On Monday when the 134th IOC Session kicks off in Lausanne, the IOC will elect a 2026 Winter Games host from between Stockholm Åre in Sweden and Milan-Cortina in Italy.
Robert Livingstone will be reporting from the 134th IOC Session and 2026 Host City Election being held in Lausanne, Switzerland Starting June 24. Follow him on Twitter @enotsgnivil to keep up-to-date.