IOC President on 2020 Bids, Arab Spring, Cutting Olympic Sports
Your thoughts on the race for 2020? Among this field of six cities you have three from Islamic nations, a first for an Olympic campaign.
I don’t think it’s something that is affecting the candidacies. We are not assessing cities in terms of religion. We are not assessing cities in what I would say ideology. We are assessing the cities in terms of whether they can take care of the welfare of the athlete. That’s the most important thing.
Will Doha get a fair shake from the IOC with consideration of dates to avoid the summer heat?
We are now in the process of assessing the feasibility of staging the Games between the 20the of September and the 20th of October, which was the slot Doha wanted to organize the Games. As we have said very clearly, we’ve asked for the advice of international federations, we’ve asked the advice if our own medical commission and experts. And the general opinion was outdoor sports should be organized in early morning or late afternoon. I would say, roughly between 10 am and 6pm, there should be no outdoor sports because the heat will be too big.
That means you have to accommodate these sports in early morning, a process that is already being done for some sports like the marathon in hot cities.
[In Doha] there will be more than one sport that has to be organized in the early morning, or late afternoon. So we are looking at whether this can be done logistically, if it can be done in terms of broadcasting. This is an assessment that we are going to make at the [EB meeting] next May.
What is the overall feeling about the 2020 field?
Well, I am very glad. With the exception of Doha, which is a smaller city, you have big cities. Some of them have already bid for the Games. Istanbul has bid many times. Madrid is bidding for the third time. Definitely Tokyo is coming for the second time. So it’s going to be an interesting race.
What impact will the sovereign debt situation have on the bids from Rome and Madrid?
They are optimistic. I follow this closely. In the case of Madrid and the case of Rome, very little must be built. Much of the existing infrastructure is already in place. It will here and there need some refurbishment and upgrading, but they don’t expect to have a big budget in terms of needing to add all the infrastructure.
It’s a bit like Atlanta. Atlanta did not have to build a lot. They had to build a big stadium, the rest was the utilization of existing facilities.
The process is now underway to determine the sports program for 2020. That includes eliminating one sport from the program. How will this happen?
There will be a fair and transparent process. We have discussed with the federations themselves what kind of process they will have to follow. One sport will be unhappy. Also I have to say that sport has a chance to be picked up when it competes with the eight other sports which are competing for the program.
That sport will be chosen based on the experience we are going to have in London, and with the assessment of more than 35 criteria, ranging from universality to fight against doping, to costs of the sport, appeal of the sport. We’ll compare all the sports and the Executive Board will then make a difficult decision that one sport will go out of the program.
With the issues facing football with questions of some improprieties in World Cup bidding, does FIFA need to pay attention to its status on the Olympic program?
All sports have to be vigilant in governance, that goes without saying. We’ll judge according to the criteria. Definitely governance will be an issue, but I don’t mean necessarily for FIFA. For all of the 26
Ed Hula with Norman Li, correspondent for ATR Chinese partner Tencent, interview Jacques Rogge in Beijing. (ATR)
sports, governance is one of the criteria.
The so-called Arab Spring has touched the people and governments of the Middle East and North Africa. How has this affected the NOCs of the region?
First of all, after the turmoil began in Tunisia and then Egypt, then spreading to other countries. We immediately contacted the National Olympic Committees and made sure that the athletes would not suffer from the social troubles in their country.
We got reassurance that would not be the case, that athletes would continue to train. In a certain number of cases we sent athletes abroad to be able to train in more peaceful circumstances.
In certain countries the leadership of the national Olympic Committees has been changed. This is the case in Tunisia, there is now a change underway in Libya, because the president of the National Olympic Committee has taken refuge in Algeria. There is a process where in the proper time new elections will choose a new president. We’ve had contacts with the Libya NOC and the Libyan athletes are continuing to compete, although under difficult circumstances.
What about the possibility of a new NOC from South Sudan?
Whenever a country gets access to sovereignty, they choose a flag, they choose an anthem, they ask for membership at the United Nations, they create a National Olympic Committee. So, yes there will be a National Olympic Committee for South Sudan. We are working very closely with them. We will make sure that their athletes are well-prepared for London. And in due time they will have a general assembly and they will create their own National Olympic Committee.
Conducted by Ed Hula
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