IOC boss aims to elim­i­nate ‘loser’ bid­ders

Push­ing plan to change process of award­ing Games

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS in Lau­sanne, Switzer­land

Sig­nal­ing a po­ten­tial rad­i­cal change in the way Olympic host cities are cho­sen, In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee pres­i­dent Thomas Bach wants to re­vise the bid­ding process be­cause it “pro­duces too many losers.”

He wouldn’t rule out the pos­si­bil­ity of award­ing two Games at the same time.

Bach’s com­ments came on Thurs­day, the same day the IOC ex­ec­u­tive board cleared all three can­di­date cities for the 2024 Olympics — Paris, Los An­ge­les and Budapest, Hun­gary — to ad­vance to the next stage of the race.

“We have to take into con­sid­er­a­tion that the pro­ce­dure as it is now pro­duces too many losers,” Bach said at a me­dia con­fer­ence.

“You can be happy about a strong field in quan­tity for one day but you start to re­gret it the next day.

“It is not the pur­pose of an Olympic can­di­date city pro­ce­dure to pro­duce losers. It is to pro­duce the best pos­si­ble host for an Olympic Games. We will have to look into this.”

It was the first time Bach has pub­licly spo­ken about fur­ther changes to the bid­ding process, which in re­cent years has seen vot­ers re­ject bids in ref­er­en­dums and cities drop out be­cause of con­cerns over the cost of host­ing the Games.

The IOC is sched­uled to vote on the host city for the 2024 Games in Septem­ber in Lima, Peru.

Paris and Los An­ge­les are viewed as close fa­vorites, with Budapest as an out­sider.

Olympic of­fi­cials in re­cent months have be­gun pri­vately dis­cussing the idea of award­ing the 2024 and 2028 Games si­mul­ta­ne­ously, en­sur­ing that Paris and Los An­ge­les would get one or the other.

Paris hosted the 1900 and 1924 Games, while LA was the site of the 1932 and 1984 Sum­mer Olympics.

Some of­fi­cials be­lieve that, be­cause both cities are such strong con­tenders, it would be a mis­take for one to lose out. It would seem un­likely that ei­ther loser would bid again for 2028.

Bach re­peated sev­eral times that the 2024 bid­ding is al­ready in full swing and the IOC is “happy” with that process. When asked about the pos­si­bil­ity of award­ing both Games at the Lima meet­ing, he didn’t cat­e­gor­i­cally rule it out.

“Let us study this ques­tion, which is not an easy one,” he said.

Bach sug­gested it is more likely any ma­jor change will come for fu­ture bid­ding races.

“We have to think longterm,” he said, adding that, for the 2024 race, the IOC ad­vised three uniden­ti­fied cities dur­ing the “in­vi­ta­tion phase” not to sub­mit bids be­cause they failed to meet the re­quire­ments.

The IOC has sought to fix the bid­ding process for years amid a sharp down­turn in in­ter­est from po­ten­tial host cities, many scared off by the $51 bil­lion price tag as­so­ci­ated with the 2014 Sochi Win­ter Games.

The bid races for the 2020, 2022 and 2024 Olympics were all hit by with­drawals for po­lit­i­cal or fi­nan­cial rea­sons.

Six cities pulled out of the con­test for the 2022 Win­ter Games, leav­ing only two fi­nal­ists, with Bei­jing de­feat­ing Al­maty, Kaza­khstan.

Ham­burg pulled out of the 2024 race after lo­cal res­i­dents re­jected the bid in a ref­er­en­dum, and Rome’s 2024 bid was scrapped after the new mayor re­jected the project over costs.

Bach’s ‘Olympic Agenda 2020’ re­forms were aimed at mak­ing bid­ding and host­ing more flex­i­ble and less costly. But he ac­knowl­edged the re­forms hadn’t solved ev­ery­thing, say­ing they have been af­fected by “more changes in the de­ci­sion-mak­ing mech­a­nisms in pol­i­tics.”

“You can see how in many coun­tries you have pop­ulist move­ments and anti-es­tab­lish­ment move­ments get­ting stronger and stronger,” he said.

While the IOC has tra­di­tion­ally awarded one Olympics at a time, some other ma­jor sports bod­ies have awarded mul­ti­ple events si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

FIFA awarded the 2018 World Cup to Rus­sia and 2022 tour­na­ment to Qatar in the same bid­ding process.

FIFA lead­ers said it was a mis­take that will not be re­peated. Swiss fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors are still look­ing into sus­pi­cions of wrong­do­ing dur­ing that con­test.

DE­NIS BALIBOUSE / REUTERS

In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee pres­i­dent Thomas Bach speaks at a me­dia con­fer­ence after an ex­ec­u­tive board meet­ing in Lau­sanne, Switzer­land, on Thurs­day.

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