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  • Streamlining the IOC Session


    (ATR) The digital era of IOC meetings takes root next week when the first-ever virtual IOC Session is convened.

    The 100 members of the IOC will take part via electronic connection through a meetings platform. It’s not unlike the way organizations and companies worldwide have adopted virtual meetings as a way to leapfrog the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

    The session was originally scheduled for this month in Tokyo. With the postponement of the Olympics to 2021, the session on the eve of the games suddenly became an orphan of sorts. Some weeks after declaring a postponement in Tokyo, the IOC announced the session would be held virtually but with an agenda streamlined from three days to four hours on one day.

    It won’t be the first time the IOC has met virtually. IOC President Thomas Bach assembled the members a couple of times for virtual meetings during the discussions and aftermath of the Tokyo postponement. The IOC Executive Board has also met virtually several times this year. But the meeting next week is the first on the record, decision-making Session to be held in a digital format.

    The IOC EB is scheduled to hold a virtual meeting ahead of the session on July 15. The agenda for that meeting is a prelude to what’s expected at the Session two days later. The IOC president is expected to speak to the press after the EB meeting as well as the Session.

    Once planned for three days in Tokyo, the IOC Session is now streamlined to four hours on July 17. The agenda is focused on the immediate issues the IOC is facing. That will include
    IOC Pres. Thomas Bach will be the first to convene a virtual IOC session. (ATR)
    reports from each of the seven organizing committees handling upcoming games from Tokyo next year through to Los Angeles 2028 and two Youth Olympic Games: Dakar 2022 and Gangwon 2024.

    IOC Coordination Commission chair John Coates will lead off the reports with his observations about Tokyo 2020. The postponement has produced a series of issues to solve. How many are settled and how many are proving vexing will be watched for a barometer on prospects for the Games.

    With finance issues raised by the postponement, a report by the finance commission will be another signal from the IOC as to the impact of delaying the Games by one year.

    Elections are scheduled for Executive Board seats. There are two vice presidential slots open with Ugur Erdner of Turkey and Spain’s Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr. ending their four-year terms. Two seats are also open for regular members of the EB. Olympian Sergey Bubka from Ukraine and Ser Miang Ng of Singapore will be stepping down.

    The procedures for voting have not been announced publicly. In a regular IOC Session, electronic devices are used by the members to record and quickly tally the votes. But those voting boxes weren’t designed for virtual application. Assuming there may be multiple contestants for each of the seats, voting could take up to an hour in a normal IOC Session with all the members gathered in one place.

    While not specifically mentioned in the agenda of the Session, the date of July 17 corresponds this year to the Centennial of the birth of former IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch. He led the IOC from 1980 to 2001 and died in 2010. Recognition of the IOC leader is expected at some point during the meeting.

    Written by Ed Hula. For general comments or questions, click here.
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