Desperate for a plan ‘B’, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has been considering its options should the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar be scheduled for the winter.
“We need to think of something, and fast,” an inside source told GamesBids.com on condition of anonymity, “especially now that candidates are about to be selected for the 2022 Games.
In 2010, Qatar controversially won their bid to host the World Cup in the month of June after promising that new technologies would cool indoor stadiums amidst the expected sweltering summer heat. But after being elected by FIFA, officials changed their stance and are now pushing to stage the tournament earlier in the year, in winter.
This would disrupt international sport schedules, but most seriously would conflict with the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games that would occur in February and March.
The IOC is concerned that the two huge events would result in “viewer fatigue” and result in lower television ratings – and that sponsor revenue would decline sharply if advertisers are forced to split their budgets between the events.
“This is a huge concern; we’re even considering a change as drastic as holding the Games one year later, in 2023,” the source revealed.
FIFA will be involved in meetings in November this year to further discuss schedules and the timing of the 2022 World Cup, but the IOC is scheduled to winnow down a list of its candidates at a meeting early in July based on staging the Games starting February 2022.
“We need to be straight with these bids, and put a plan in place for them.”
The IOC Executive Board meets in Belek, Turkey next week and this issue will likely be foremost on the agenda. GamesBids.com was told that a change in dates might also alter the 2022 bid process and schedule, possibly reopening the campaign to new bidders who could prepare for 2023 instead.
The process change could actually benefit the IOC that is currently dealing with a weak field of bidders for 2022.
Last week the Mayor of Krakow, Poland said his bid will face a referendum before becoming official. A bid from Oslo, Norway is challenged by low public support and risks losing government funding. Turmoil in Ukraine threatens the viability of Lviv’s quest to host the Games and Beijing’s bid faces timing and geographical challenges. A fifth bidder from Almaty, Kazakhstan missed the shortlist for the 2014 Olympics because it lacked the minimum bid requirements.
It was suggested a new application deadline could be set for December 2014.
All modern Olympic Games, both Summer and Winter, have been staged in even number years. From their inception in 1924 until 1992, the Winter Games occurred during the same year as the Summer Games. Beginning in 1994 the Winter Games schedule was realigned to occur two years later than the Summer Games, and have been held every four years since.
The thinking is to keep the name “2022 Winter Olympic Games” even though the schedule would technically be in 2023.
“We have a lot to think about,” the source said.
“There is a risk even if the World Cup occurs after the Paralympics, starting in April. Fools at FIFA aren’t looking at the overall impact on sport.”
[Editor’s Note: As the last sentence hints, this article was our annual April Fools’ Day piece and is purely fictional – well, some of it is.]