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  • Tuesday Talk -- Thomas Bach on Olympic Bids, IOC Presidency, London 2012


    (ATR) IOC vice president Thomas Bach is widely seen as a possible successor to IOC president Jacques Rogge when his term ends in 2013. But he tells Around the Rings now is not the time to be campaigning.
    Thomas Bach at the recent 14th World Conference on Sport for All in Beijing. (ATR)

    Bach talks to Around the Rings Editor Ed Hula in an interview conducted in late August at the IAAF Athletics World Championships in Daegu, South Korea.

    Bach, 57, has been an IOC member since 1991. A member of the Executive Board since 1996, he was elected a vice president in 2009. He is also president of the German NOC, known as the DOSB, or German Olympic Sports Union. He is an Olympian, winning gold in fencing at the 1976 Games in Montreal.

    ATR: Now that some time has passed since Munich lost to PyeongChang for the 2018 Olympics, what is your reaction to the bid loss?

    TB: We are in the very fortunate situation, in Germany and in the world of sports, everybody is really appreciative of the bid. In the sports world, in Germany, the public, the opinion leaders, they have the opinion that this bid has presented Germany and German winter sports very well. They all agree in Germany and the international sports world that this was not a vote against Munich but a vote in favor of Pyeongchang and Asia.

    ATR: How does Germany get the Games one day: summer or winter?

    TB: This we have to consider carefully and now here we are not under time pressure. The last time we had to start early because we needed sometime to really properly develop the project. It took us four years to put this project together. Now for a potential next bid we would have more time. Like the Koreans had for their last time, who jumped on the train in the last minutes.

    We are considering both, we will consider both. Again, it would be premature now to speculate therein on the outcome. We think we are in the position and in Germany that we could theoretically organize a Summer Games and we could organize a Winter Games. It’s a question of timing and a question of competition and a question of determination also of the city and the government.

    ATR: What about the possibility of Thomas Bach as a candidate for IOC President in 2013?

    TB: There are two years before this. It is too early and it would not be fair to the organization now to have such a discussion and because the organization, the IOC, has to deal with the issues, not with candidates now. Secondly, I ran for vice president in Vancouver saying I would like to support our president as much as I can. Therefore, this is not the time for speculation about candidatures.
    Bach with German president Christian Wulff and Munich 2018 bid chair Katarina Witt at the IOC Session in Durban in July. (ATR)

    ATR: Will the timing be better after London?

    TB: No. I don’t know. Two years in politics is an eternity.

    ATR: What can you say about German preparations for London 2012?

    TB: In general, we are on track.

    ATR: Do you have the financial support and logistical support needed?

    TB: You can never have enough financial support. With the foundation of [the German Union of Olympic Sports] we changed the system of support.

    All federations get a basic support, and then for the rest we changed the system in the past. Then they got some additional support as a bonus for medals being won eight years ago or four years ago, and we changed the structure so that we don’t pay a bonus for the past, but we invest in the future. This is why we have individual contracts with the federations with clear targets and at least every year we evaluate the progress to achieving these targets.

    ATR: Do you make any type of medal projections for the German team?

    TB: No. We want to stay at the top. Nations such as China, U.S. and Russia, we know, are out of reach. We know that GB will have a very, very, very strong home team in London. You have a group of the different nations like Australia, Germany, Japan, South Korea and maybe France – they’re all very close, so if we would be among the leaders of this pack then we will be happier.

    ATR: Does it make it easier to plan for Olympics so close to Germany?

    TB: You gave the answer. It makes it easier in regards to the preparation of the team transport. You can fly in and out more easily.

    So there it's easier, but on the other hand the interest is so high among spectators, among sponsors, among the political people, and they all want to go. So our German House, we’ll have it in the Dockland Museum. Close to the museum, we’ll have Germany’s most popular cruise ship anchoring there, providing rooms for all our guests and partners.

    ATR: How about German demand for London tickets?
    Bach is interviewed by ATR Editor Ed Hula in Daegu. (ATR)

    TB: Yes, the demand is extremely high, and it is not only high in Germany. We have I think some couple of hundreds of thousands of Germans living in Great Britain. Don’t ask me the exact number, but I think it is more than 200,000. They are also very enthusiastic in welcoming their team so the demand is really high. 

    ATR: How many tickets?

    TB: I don’t know because we give it to an agency. We incorporate with an agency, and they deal with the ticket sales and with the travel and everything, so that I can always explain very well if friends are approaching you and asking for you, and I can honestly say I don’t have a single one in my pocket.

    ATR: What are you expecting from the first Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck? The German team should be strong there. 

    TB: Yes, I think we will have a pretty strong team because what we can see is that we’re doing quite well in winter sports not only at the Olympic level but also at the junior level. We’ll have a pretty strong team also with good support from parents, friends and spectators because Innsbruck is so close.

    Interview conducted by Ed Hula

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