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  • OpEd: Scandal, Greed Fuel Public Doubt for Olympic Bids


    Richard Peterkin of St. Lucia. (ATR)
    (ATR) “Decades of poor corporate governance and a dishonest culture” are at the root of public distrust about Olympic bids says St. Lucia IOC member Richard Peterkin.

    In this OpEd, Peterkin reacts to the Nov. 29 referendum defeat of the 2024 bid from Hamburg.

    Peterkin, an accountant by profession, has been an IOC member since 2009 and served as president of the St. Lucia NOC from 1992 to 2012.

    I have read all of the commentaries on the Hamburg vote, some of which are overly pessimistic, and many of which suggest that the IOC is not doing enough to address public doubts about the impact and legacy of hosting the Olympic Games.

    As an IOC member, I am mindful of these concerns, and how they will affect the remaining bids for the 2024 Games, and future bids for subsequent Games. But I am not convinced that IOC inaction or poor communication is the most significant cause.

    What we are witnessing now is a perfect storm of revelations and allegations about corruption in international federations, doping scandals, and financial problems facing organizing committees, which seem to be overwhelming all the good efforts being made by the IOC to restore hope and confidence in the public's mind as to the value of the Games.

    Would it make any difference to the public's perception if the IOC doubled the contribution given to host cities? Does the IOC have the right or the power to intervene in the governance of IFs or the ability to correct the poor fiscal management of governments in countries hosting or bidding for the Games? Are the many changes that have been made to improve IOC operations and governance being overlooked or tainted by the scandals in other organizations and the desire by dirty athletes to win at any cost?

    IOC President Thomas Bach recently made the point that the many public attempts to promote the positive and beneficial aspects of Agenda 2020 have not received the attention and coverage of a sports media that is being offered up a daily diet of scandalous stories of greedy men behaving badly. Add to that the power and reach of social media that spreads the gloom and doom to a public that has become increasingly skeptical, perhaps rightly so, of the promises and irrational exuberance of politicians and promoters.

    We are all now paying a price for decades of poor corporate governance and a dishonest culture that nurtured serious conflicts of interest and unethical practices. While the IOC took corrective action following its own failures, it does not seem to have enough support from governments, sponsors and sports organizations, both national and international, to win the fight against doping and the battle against bad governance.

    It will take a continuing strategy of disruptive innovation to create a new market and value network that eventually disrupts the existing models and value network, and displaces established market leaders and alliances. It won't happen overnight, but all is not lost.

    There may be more fallout among the remaining 2024 bidders, and it will take greater financial creativity to incentivize future bidders, but the IOC is changing, and has the financial resources, brand resilience and ethical culture to restore confidence and value to a product that will survive these fragile financial times.

    Written by Richard Peterkin.

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