The IOC determined that Innsbruck presented “the least risk” of all the cities bidding for the Winter Youth Olympic Games. (Johannes Simon/Getty Images)
(ATR) Innsbruck is favored to be named host of the first Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2012. The Austrian city was ranked above Finland's Kuopio in an IOC report that shortlisted the two finalists Monday ahead of next month's vote.
The two cities were selected by the IOC Executive Board last week. Cut from the field were Harbin (China) and Lillehammer (Norway).
The EB's decision was based on a report compiled by the IOC Evaluation Commission chaired by IOC member from Sweden Pernilla Wiberg. The report focused on the risks associated with the organization of the Games which are on a fast-track timetable with the Games little more than three years away.
Innsbruck was said to present "the least risk to the IOC."
The report stated that the city's plan was "very well thought-through and presents an integrated vision with a good balance of sport, culture and education."
"The use of existing infrastructure and tested organizational capabilities, together with strong government support, should allow Innsbruck to transition into an organizing committee without delay and immediately begin working towards the organization of the Youth Olympic Games," it said.
An alternative solution to building an Olympic Village, using hotels in both Innsbruck and Seefeld, had significantly reduced the risks of the Austrian city's plans.
Kuopio's YOG plans received a much less glowing assessment, with the commission concluding that they present "some risk to the IOC."
The report said the city "makes good use of existing venues and presents an integrated vision that follows the overall philosophy of the Youth Olympic Games," while it offered a good level of experience in hosting international events in a number of winter sports.
But it noted that while there is no obligation to host all sports/disciplines on the Vancouver 2010 Olympic program, Kuopio's competition schedule does not include bobsleigh nor a number of Alpine skiing events.
It also said Kuopio's YOGOC budget was extremely low and included no contingency.
"Combined with the fact that the shortfall guarantee provided jointly by the Finnish government and the City of Kuopio is limited in value
Kuopio, Finland finished second in the IOC’s voting for the 2012 Youth Olympic Games.
and the lack of detail in the additional financial information submitted, the Evaluation Commission does not feel confident that Kuopio would be able to deliver the required levels of service and operational requirements of the Winter Youth Olympic Games within the proposed financial envelope," the report said.
Lillehammer's relatively strong bid fell down on the lack of guarantees from the Norwegian government.
"Whilst the Norwegian government has given assurances that the necessary guarantees from the government would be approved by the Norwegian Parliament, it remains that financial guarantees which represent over 50 percent of all revenues in the YOGOC budget as well as the shortfall guarantee have not been submitted to the IOC," the report said.
Harbin was dropped from the field because it offered too many risks to the IOC.
According to the report, the commission "did not feel that the bid committee fully addressed the philosophy of the Youth Olympic Games and notion of worldwide reach associated with the project."
The spread of venues across two major venue clusters in Harbin and Yabuli, 93 miles apart, may also have a negative impact on the Youth Olympic Games experience, it concluded.
The IOC Evaluation Commission report was based on the candidature files submitted by the four cities in the summer, video conference calls with each of the bid teams on Sept. 19 and subsequent guarantees submitted to the IOC.
Innsbruck and Kuopio will now be submitted to IOC members for a postal vote. The host city will be announced by IOC President Jacques Rogge in a live webcast scheduled for Dec. 12.
The 2012 YOG brings together around 1,000 athletes aged 14-18 years who will take part in sports on the Winter Olympic program. With reporting from Mark Bisson.For general comments or questions, click here.Your best source of news about the Olympics is www.aroundtherings.com, for subscribers only.