IOC President reaffirms that 2036 Olympics bid contenders in “double digits,” but still “way too early”

"We have never seen such a high interest in hosting the Olympic Games" - IOC President Thomas Bach

IOC President Thomas Bach makes opening remarks at the Olympic AI Agenda Launch April 19, 2024 (Photo: IOC/Greg Martin)
IOC President Thomas Bach makes opening remarks at the Olympic AI Agenda Launch April 19, 2024 (Photo: IOC/Greg Martin)

Seven years after awarding the Olympic Games to the only cities willing to host, International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach confirmed there are now several options to choose from, with interest in the 2036 edition in the “double digits.”

Bach told AFP last week that “we have never been in such a favorable position.”

“We have never seen such a high interest in hosting the Olympic Games.”

But he also cautioned that with the Games still 12 years away “it is way too early to comment on any of these interests,” specifically referencing some of the more controversial campaigns by Saudi Arabia and Qatar where human rights records and climate concerns would be an issue.

Bach made the same claim almost one year ago, but under the Olympic bid process in place since 2019 the IOC won’t reveal those parties engaged in so-called continuous dialogue where mutual opportunities are discussed until the right host is found. Brisbane became that choice for 2032 when the Australian city was unexpectedly announced as preferred candidate in 2021, leaving an unknown list of other regions behind.

The IOC has agreed not to reveal the identities of interested parties so they can avoid any embarrassment if they are not chosen to host.

The new process followed the 2024 bid campaign where three of five candidates dropped out of the race and the IOC offered both remaining Paris and Los Angeles the 2024 and 2028 Games respectively.

Some other regions have made it known that they are organizing bids to host in 2036. Notably India has mounted an aggressive campaign and Germany has begun a public consultation process to measure interest. Earlier this year Turkey stepped up plans for a bid by Istanbul when the city was awarded the 2027 European Games. South Korea, Indonesia and Hungary have also indicated possible bids. London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan had previously announce plans for 2036 but recently added a 2040 bid to his reelection platform instead.

Bach hinted that the traditional Olympics calendar may need to be adjusted to accommodate climate change, hinting that the Games might need to be moved from the traditional July/August timeframe to sometime in the fall. When Qatar hosted the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the tournament was moved to December to meet the challenges of the Summer heat.

“The international sports calendar may look very different from the one we are used to now,” Bach told AFP.

That would signal that the IOC might now consider hosts from the Middle East, a region that has never staged the Games, after those bids had been shunned due to the need to move the event away from the more lucrative Summer Months.

The IOC refused to accept Doha’s bid to host in 2016 and 2020 after it proposed to stage competitions in October.

There is no set timetable for the awarding of the Summer Games. The IOC’s Future Host Commission for the Games led by former Croatian president Kolinda Garbar-Kitarovic who has said she doesn’t expect an election to occur before 2026 or 2027.

A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of 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.

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