Cur­rent sys­tem needs a re­vamp to re­gain pub­lic con­fi­dence, says for­mer IOC of­fi­cial

New Straits Times - - Sport -

THE Olympics needs a re­boot to re­gain the con­fi­dence of the pub­lic in the bid­ding process be­cause the cur­rent model is “dead“, a high-rank­ing for­mer IOC of­fi­cial says.

Michael Payne, widely cred­ited with trans­form­ing the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee brand and their fi­nances through spon­sor­ship, said there was no prob­lem with the end prod­uct of the Games it­self.

But the 59-year-old English­man, a for­mer di­rec­tor of mar­ket­ing at the IOC who is ad­vis­ing Los An­ge­les in their 2024 bid, said that was not the case when it comes to con­vinc­ing the pub­lic that they want the Games in their city.

The race for the 2024 Sum­mer Games has only two can­di­dates left stand­ing — Los An­ge­les and Paris — af­ter the likes of Boston, Rome and Bu­dapest dropped out due to a per­ceived lack of pop­u­lar sup­port at home.

This con­trasts to the six can­di­dates that the 1992 and 1996 Games at­tracted and the 20002012 edi­tions drew five can­di­dates apiece.

“To clar­ify: the bid­ding process as we know it is dead,” Payne said on the side­lines of Sport­sPro Live in Lon­don, a con­fer­ence on the com­mer­cial, po­lit­i­cal and op­er­a­tional as­pects of sport.

“The present sys­tem that there is a nice beauty con­test and then two of them turn­ing up at the al­tar is dead.”

Payne, who af­ter leav­ing the IOC in 2004 per­formed a sim­i­lar role with For­mula One, said the power of so­cial me­dia had left bid­ding for the Games open to un­prece­dented scru­tiny and peo­ple wanted to know more than be­fore what pub­lic money was be­ing spent and why.

Bu­dapest aban­doned its 2024 bid af­ter young ac­tivists col­lected over a quar­ter of a mil­lion sig­na­tures.

Fear­ing spi­ralling costs and the risk of cor­rup­tion, the ac­tivists said tax­pay­ers should de­cide how their money is be­ing spent.

“I think the bid­ding process for all ma­jor events needs rad­i­cal over­haul and the un­der­stand­ing of host­ing them also needs a rad­i­cal over­haul,” Payne said.

“Un­til re­cently bud­get prom­ises dur­ing the bid­ding process were not put un­der the mi­cro­scope but the so­cial me­dia en­vi­ron­ment we are now liv­ing in is forc­ing far more un­der the mi­cro­scope.

“Ev­ery­one has to do a much bet­ter job of ex­plain­ing in the case of the Olympics.

“It is not that the end prod­uct is bro­ken, the au­di­ence rat­ings at the end of Rio were as strong as they have ever been. “But the jour­ney get­ting there and post Games re­port if you get it wrong is a lot more bru­tal and un­der­min­ing con­fi­dence in the fu­ture.”

Payne, who was an ad­viser to the suc­cess­ful Rio 2016 bid and sub­se­quently bro­kered a mas­sive broad­cast­ing deal with Brazil­ian me­dia gi­ant Globo, said the LA 2024 bid en­joyed high pub­lic ap­proval.

“Los An­ge­les is cur­rently at 85 per cent (pub­lic) sup­port,” said Payne.

“Why? Be­cause there is still the mem­ory of 1984 (Games in the city) and what it did for Los An­ge­les.”

Ac­cord­ing to Payne, the peo­ple of Los An­ge­les wanted the Olympics in 1984 but only if it was pri­vately fi­nanced — and they got their way.

“LA rewrote the model and cre­ated such a suc­cess with a US$250 mil­lion (RM1.12 bil­lion) profit that it led to Barcelona bid­ding (1992) and Syd­ney (2000),” he said, call­ing for an­other re­vamp to get a scep­ti­cal pub­lic in cities all over the world back be­hind the Olympics.

“Los An­ge­les cre­ated the mod­ern Games and buried the mem­ory of the bank­rupt city of Montreal and the 1976 Olympics which made no­body want the Games.

“There is a sense of Ground­hog Day... you’ve been there, done that, now re­boot the process.”

The present sys­tem that there is a nice beauty con­test and then two of them turn­ing up at the al­tar is dead. MICHAEL PAYNE For­mer IOC of­fi­cial

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