Speaking to delegates at the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) General Assembly in Tokyo Thursday, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said his organization is enjoying stability that stakeholders can be proud of.
“We can really say that we are enjoying the stability which any other major organization or industry or NGO would envy us,” Bach said to influential international sport officials at the important annual event.
“This stability in this world we are living in is the hardest currency we can have.
“This long term stability with excellent (Olympic) hosts already decided, with others already on the horizon 14 years ahead.”
Bach’s remarks come on the heels of presentations Tuesday by the remaining two of seven original candidates to host the 2026 Olympic Winter Games.
A joint Italian bid from Milan and Cortino d’Ampezzo along with Stockholm in Sweden are still struggling to secure elusive government support in order to move forward with their projects. Already bids from Calgary, Sapporo, Sion in Switzerland and Graz in Austria have dropped out of the 2026 race, and another bid from Erzurum in Turkey was dismissed by the IOC for being too costly.
For the 2022 Winter Games, four European bids dropped from the race before snow-challenged Beijing narrowly defeated Almaty in Kazakhstan to win the right to host.
For the 2024 Summer Games, three cities including Hamburg, Rome and Budapest dropped out of the race leaving only Paris and Los Angeles to vie for the prize. In order to lock in the “stability” Bach spoke of, an unprecedented tripartite deal was struck to award the French Capital the 2024 Games and grant Los Angeles the 2028 Games with special concessions.
The 2026 situation is dire, and earlier this year Bach admitted that the IOC had no plan B.
The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has already filed interest in hosting the 2030 Games but has hurried a domestic nomination process that will arrive at a winner in December. The arrangements would be complicated, but it is thought that Salt Lake City may be chosen ahead of only rival Denver – and could be ready to host in 2026 if called upon to do so.
Nine cities have expressed interest in a 2032 Games, but a decision won’t be made by the IOC until 2025. A larger field often emerges before stakeholders further study plans and the election date draws closer – and the list shrinks.
Last month an unlikely joint bid between North and South Korea emerged.
In September Indonesian officials said they were considering a bid by Jakarta.
Other possible bidders include Shanghai in China, Brisbane in Australia, India, Germany, Russia and Egypt.
Officials in Buenos Aires, after a successful Youth Olympic Games last month, said they are also looking at a 2032 bid. Those same officials also recently said they were considering a 2026 bid, months after the deadline to apply had passed.
Bach also pointed to locked-in broadcast contracts extending to 2032 and sponsorship deals that will help ensure a steady flow of income, but Bach’s claims of “stability” are overstated.
The organization has launched a series of reforms, tweaked and re-tweaked the bid process and played with various versions of its messaging over recent years – but has yet to land on a combination that works.
As the IOC struggles to manage costs associated with hosting the Olympic Games, and to attract willing host cities that live up to the values of the organization – it will continue to search for the balance it needs to move forward with confidence.