The three candidate bid teams vying to host the 2018 Olympic Winter Games have arrived in Lausanne, Switzerland in advance of critical presentations to be made Wednesday to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Each bid will be given 90-minutes (45-minutes for presentations and 45- minutes for questions-and-answers) to earn the votes of a large group of IOC members. Arguably the most important meeting of the campaign, this opportunity may be a pivotal point leading into the last leg of the race.
Immediately prior to the July 6th election in Durban, South Africa the bid teams get about 30 minutes to present at a point in the campaign when most delegates have formed their opinions and may have already decided how to cast their votes. It was mainly for this reason that the IOC first instituted an earlier, more detailed technical briefing during the 2016 bid campaign and brought back the concept for this 2018 campaign.
To add additional value and try to incite relevant questions from the IOC delegates, the Evaluation Commission has decided to release their evaluation report prior to the meeting instead of waiting until one month prior to the final election as traditionally done.
However, in contrast to the final presentations that are televised worldwide – Wednesday’s technical briefings will be held in private – closed to the prying media thus maintaining each bid’s competitive advantage should a line-of-questioning occur that reveals more than they would prefer that their opponents learn.
The bid teams will also set up presentation rooms where member can view displays and models up close and have additional questions answered.
Having a large proportion of IOC members and delegates from Annecy, Munich and PyeongChang in the same place at the same time will also create lobbying opportunities and bid teams will clamour for the attention of IOC members with whom they want a few words.
PyeongChang’s team will be headlined by South Korea’s Ice Queen Yu-Na Kim, sports ambassador to the bid and Vancouver 2010 figure skating gold medalist who placed second at last month’s World Championships in Moscow. The high-profile athlete considered to be a valuable asset for PyeongChang was scheduled to present at SportAccord last month until the World Championships were rescheduled in conflict. Instead she’ll make her international debut in Lausanne.
The South Korean bid will likely focus on the “New Horizons” theme, a concept that proposes that a Winter Games in PyeongChang will open up vast new markets to winter sports including up to 650 million youth.
Munich 2018 will be fronted by bid Chief Katarina Witt, an Ice Queen in her own right, well known as an Olympic figure skating double gold medalist for performances in ’84 and ’88. She’ll meet Kim to battle for the first time on or off the ice.
On Tuesday Witt told her Facebook followers “Entering the final stages of our candidature for Munich 2018, this briefing is our last big opportunity to get our message across before the vote in Durban on July 6th.”
BMW Group’s Head of Sales and Marketing Ian Robertson will be in attendance, as he was at the SportAccord Conference last month when he spoke about the abundant sponsorship opportunities available to Munich 2018. In London he hinted at BMW’s interest in becoming an Olympic TOP sponsor; perhaps he’ll elaborate on this behind closed doors in Lausanne.
The Munich team will also likely reiterate Tuesday’s timely announcement that an important agreement has been reached securing the final parcel of land required for the events planned in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
The German bid has embraced the “festival of friendship” theme, but at a different level there is a more defensive proposition – both Witt and German Olympic Sports Confederation President Thomas Bach have described the need for the IOC to “recharge its batteries” and return to the heart of winter sports in Europe. This direct shot at PyeongChang’s theme underlines the tense race that has evolved between the two perceived frontrunners in the race.
Annecy’s bid – markedly behind in this race due in part to early funding issues and a leadership change in January when former Chair Edgar Grospiron suddenly resigned – will be led by high-profile French entrepreneur Charles Beigbeder. The banking, internet and power industry mogul has managed to keep Annecy relevant in this race by providing strong leadership, and by leveraging his business acumen to secure additional sponsorships that are required for the bid to remain aggressive during the international phase of the campaign.
Beigbeder and his team must take some risks during this opportunity – even to conceptually reinvent the bid within the strict IOC rules. The members will be looking for compelling reasons why Annecy deserves their vote, and lacking this, the bid will be limping to Durban.
Wednesday’s Presentation Schedule (Local Lausanne Time)
9:15 to 10:45 am – Munich 2018 Presentation and Q & A
11:15 to 12:45 pm – Annecy 2018 Presentation and Q & A
2:15 to 3:45 pm – PyeongChang 2018 Presentation and Q & A