New IOC Measures Could Cut $1 Billion From Future Games Budgets

PyeongChang, South Korea – In an attempt to attract and retain cities interested in bidding to host future Olympic Games, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Tuesday launched a set of measures it claims will cut up to USD $1 billion from the cost of hosting the Summer Games, and half that for the Winter edition.

118 measures, collectively dubbed “The New Norm”, examine opportunities to reduce venue sizes, rethink transport options, optimize existing infrastructure and reuse the field of play for various sports.

“The modifications presented in ‘The New Norm’ address many challenges associated with bidding for and hosting the Olympic Games,” IOC Member and Chair of the Executive Steering Committee that produced the plan John Coates said.

“We examined if the right services and products were provided, if timing of delivery was optimal, and where we can provide additional expertise. What resulted is a robust plan that reduces complexity and costs, while maximizing flexibility and partnership.”

Other cost-cutting proposals include better streamlining of the human resource plan allowing organizers to ramp-up staff closer to the Games, and having the IOC and other stakeholders provide more services – increasing efficiency from Games-to-Games.  The Olympic Broadcasting Service (OBS) is a successful example of the latter strategy introduced in the past.

The number of cities bidding to host the Games has fallen off sharply in recent years due the public fear of crippling cost overruns that were demonstrated with the organization of the Games in Sochi and Rio.  Several cities were forced to drop bids for both the 2022 and 2024 Games due to loss of public and government support, leaving only two final options in each case.

Last year the IOC released a statement that suggested the proposed 2026 Games budget from the City of Calgary was too high, and that new efficiencies could lower the number.  IOC officials visited that city last month to further investigate cost-cutting strategies.

IOC Vice President Juan Antonio Samaranch lauded Calgary’s plans during a bid update at the IOC’s all-members Session, explaining that the project is based on existing legacy – something that’s a key part of “The New Norm.”

Calgary City Council has been mulling a possible bid, and have made it clear that they want strict guidelines around potential costs before committing to the project.

A 2026 Bid Update was provided at the IOC Session in PyeongChang February 6, 2018 (IOC Photo)

Calgary has yet to secure government funding ahead of a March 31 application deadline for the 2026 Games.  The IOC reported Tuesday that Calgary, along with Sion in Switzerland, Stockholm in Sweden and Sapporo in Japan were part of the Dialog Phase of the bid, yet to date only Sion has confirmed it will move forward.

Though Sapporo would represent a third-straight Asia-based Winter Games following PyeongChang and Beijing, the IOC remains open to the prospect.  Samaranch refused to rule out the Japanese city, explaining that the IOC would remain flexible.

IOC Executive Director Christophe Dubi said that along with those cities in the Dialog Phase, three cities from the United States including Salt Lake City, Denver and Reno-Taho, along with Graz in Austria, have expressed interest in bidding for the 2026 Winter Games.

The IOC will elect a host city in September 2019.

GamesBids.com is reporting from PyeongChang this week.  Follow us @gamesbids on Twitter or on Facebook for updates.

Robert Livingstone

About Robert Livingstone

Robert Livingstone is a senior editor, award-winning journalist and author, covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. He is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians. Follow him @enotsgnivil