Reporting from Geneva, Switzerland – International Olympic Committee (IOC) members voted Wednesday to unanimously approve proposed changes to the Olympic bid process that will make the timing flexible, allow joint-city projects and put more control into the hands of new Summer and Winter Future Host Commissions.
Devised by Australian IOC Vice President John Coates and a special working group comprised of four other members, the new process will give much more site selection control to the the IOC Executive Board.
In an attempt to rid the process of “too many losers,” IOC President Thomas Bach has been pushing for better bid vetting and less candidates on the ballot, perhaps only one.
Coates assured the Session, who may in the future have less influence on the final selection, that they will be engaged earlier and more extensively throughout the process.
To preserve the magic and uniqueness of the Games, rules will ensure that athletes will be able to to attend the opening and closing ceremonies. While athletes will be housed nearby their venues which could be widespread and in remote locations (allowed with the new rules), athletes should be given the opportunity to also stay in the main Olympic Village and join their fellow athletes while they are not competing.
The timing of the elections could vary from bid to bid and Games to Games, depending on the current needs and opportunities.
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Future Host Commissions, both Summer and Winter, will explore, identify and target interest early and make assessments of the challenges and opportunities to be shared with the Session. Any legal requirements or need for a referendum will be addressed and resolved ahead of a bid being recommended to the Executive Board.
We need to do the vetting in advance, Coates suggested, adding “we have to avoid too many losers.”
Coates said the Session can be involved during the vetting process, leveraging various expertise among the members to facilitate the work.
Host does not necessarily refer to a city, but it could refer to multiple cities or even venues across the border.
To facilitate the new process, the working group presented deletions to the Olympic Charter. Those included the removal of the seven-year milestone to elect a host city ahead of a Games; the removal of city from the definition of host; the removal of specifics around the Olympic Village and other restrictive items, and the removal of the Evaluation Commissions to make way for Future Host Commissions.
Coates suggested that double-allocations, similar to the dual award of Paris 2024 and LA 2028 in 2017, could be accommodated under new plans.
There is the flexibility for that,” he said, responding to a member’s question.
Senior Canadian IOC Member Dick Pound said he supports the changes, even to encourage more secrecy early on to properly develop projects. He added that while the Session should make the final decision, at time it may make sense to forward only one candidate.
More to come as this story develops…
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.