(ATR) International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach admits it is time to rethink how cities bid to host the Olympic Games.
IOC president Thomas Bach speaks to the PASO general assembly in Punta del Este, Uruguay. (ATR)
With Los Angeles and Paris the only two cities remaining in the 2024 Olympic bid race, Bach says the IOC needs to stop fueling the opponents of the Games with an outdated bidding procedure.
“We have to acknowledge our candidature procedure as it is now is giving arguments to these people,” Bach told delegates at the opening of the Pan American Sports Organization general assembly in Uruguay. “It is giving the argument that it is too expensive and too complicated [to bid].”
“This results in the fact that the good old times are over in regards to the candidature procedure,” the IOC president admits. “We cannot expect a city to take the same approach as they used to approach it in the past.”
Bach detailed how cities in the past would bid to host the Olympics multiple cycles in a row, particularly European cities. Istanbul, Turkey has put forth bids for five of the past seven Summer Olympic cycles and Madrid, Spain bid unsuccessfully for three Games from 2012-2020.
Now, more and more cities are holding referendums on their Olympic bids, often ending projects before they start or as late as the final bidding stage as exemplified in the 2024 race with Budapest, Hungary. The 2024 race alone has withstood the loss of four cities either due to the threat or actualization of an Olympics referendum or lack of public support.
“Today, hardly any Mayor or political authority in a city or a country can go to their population and say ‘let’s try again’,” Bach says. “They ask – ‘we have just spent so many millions on the candidature, we have to spend it again to get back and maybe this time we’ll do better and win?’
“This in today’s world is not possible anymore,” Bach emphasizes. “We have to look into our candidature procedure to make it less expensive, make it more efficient and to streamline it more to make it more accessible.”
Los Angeles and Paris are the final two cities bidding to host the Summer 2024 Games. (IOC)
Bach says the IOC must make changes soon with the start of the 2026 Winter Olympic bidding race fast approaching. Bach has tasked the four IOC vice presidents with producing proposals to change the bidding procedure before the 2024 candidates are briefed by the IOC in Lausanne this July.
“If they should come up with some ideas, we can discuss on this occasion and make further steps with regard to candidatures,” Bach said before asking the delegates of PASO if they had any ideas or a ‘golden rule’ to improve the process.
The IOC also acknowledges it is lucky to retain the rock solid bids of Los Angeles and Paris for 2024. The bids are so strong that the IOC is having a hard time coming to grips with denying one of them the right to host the Olympics. This has led to the formation of a working group studying the possibility of letting the loser of 2024 host the Games in 2028, eliminating the need for another complicated bidding procedure.
“We are confident today whoever is elected it will be [a] great Games,” Bach says. “But if we were so complacent we would not be in sports. In sports you have to have ambition and we have to look into this situation and see how we can best explore this opportunity with these two great cities and what could be done in this respect.”
Neither Los Angeles nor Paris bid leaders have admitted they are willing to stage the 2028 edition of the Games with each insisting its 2024 or bust.
The IOC Evaluation Commission will visit the two cities in May before the candidate city briefing in July. IOC members will then vote for the 2024 host city at the IOC Session in Lima, Peru on Sep. 13.
Written by Kevin Nutley
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