IOC to change process of Olympic bid races, host elections
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Olympics hosted in multiple cities or countries. Bidders pro-actively invited. Candidates recommended with possibly no opponents.
Radical changes in how and when Olympic hosts are picked were voted in Wednesday as the International Olympic Committee looks to avoid negative headlines and angering local taxpayers following referendum losses and excessive spending on white-elephant venues.
Stung by recent public votes in Europe and Canada, the IOC agreed that future bidders could need to win a referendum before entering a race.
“We cannot, I suggest, continue to be damaged as we have in the past,” veteran IOC member John Coates said, presenting reforms already tested in the 2026 Winter Games contest.
On Monday, Milan-Cortina in northern Italy beat Stockholm-Are, which tied Sweden to Latvia’s bobsled track, in a campaign where support from national and city governments was often shaky.
Future Olympic bidders will be required to use existing and temporary venues and infrastructure, while being steered away from costly construction projects.
A new, flexible campaign timetable will end the Olympic Charter rule requiring hosts to be voted on seven years in advance of a Summer or Winter Games. That rule already had to be waived in 2017, allowing Los Angeles to be picked 11 years in advance of the 2028 Summer Games.
There might not be an election at all.
A key part of the new process is creating new Olympic panels — one each for Summer and Winter Games — which will recommend one or more candidates for an election.
“It can come to a point where there is only one candidate being proposed,” IOC President Thomas Bach said at a news conference.
It chimes with Bach’s wish to avoid “too many losers” — a phrase first heard during the 2024 race as it became a double award. Paris got the 2024 Games, while Los Angeles got 2028.
The new panels will be empowered to have “permanent ongoing dialogue” with potential bidders and pro-actively approach preferred hosts. They will report first to the Bach-chaired executive board, which will pick the members.
Coates said the process targets “developing a significant pipeline” of candidates even beyond the next bidding contest.
The IOC was not being “control freaks” demanding legal guarantees far in advance, said Richard Pound, the longest-serving member.
“Once you make a decision on the host city, millions of people start to make plans based on that and hundreds of millions of dollars are committed to it,” Pound said.
The IOC’s reformed approach to bidding followed Bach’s election in September 2013 and after Russia’s $51 billion spending on venues, infrastructure and budget overruns for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
In other business Wednesday, Athens was chosen to host the IOC’s 2021 meeting. That Session, from June 24-26, will include a presidential election with Bach currently expected to get a final four-year term unopposed.
((asterisk)) After French authorities this week said former IOC member Lamine Diack would stand trial on corruption charges, Bach suggested he could do little more to help ensure Diack’s son, Papa Massata, is extradited from Senegal. The younger Diack is wanted to face trial on charges also linked to alleged vote-buying in the 2016 and 2020 Summer Games hosting contests.
“We are not involved in this,” said Bach, who wrote months ago to Senegal’s President Macky Sall requesting help. Senegal is hosting the 2022 Youth Olympics in Dakar.
((asterisk)) Asked if Tahiti could stage surfing medal events at the 2024 Paris Olympics, Bach said he prefers athletes to have “more closeness to the heart of the Games” when there are options. France could stage surfing at Biarritz.
((asterisk)) Former Philadelphia 76ers co-owner Erick Thohir was among 10 new members elected. Thohir, also the former chairman of Inter Milan, is president of the Indonesian Olympic committee.
Other new members include: Laura Chinchilla, the president of Costa Rica from 2010 to 2014; Credit Suisse bank CEO Tidjane Thiam; and Narinder Batra, the president of the Indian Olympic body. Batra also leads the Lausanne-based governing body of field hockey.
The biggest voting total, and loudest applause, went to Greek Olympic president Spyros Capralos. In 2012, the IOC formally warned Capralos after he was implicated in black market ticket sales for the London Olympics.
((asterisk)) Two changes were made to the 15-member IOC executive board: Prince Feisal al Hussein of Jordan was elected to replace Gunilla Lindberg of Sweden, whose eight-year term ended.
Nawal el Moutawakel of Morocco, the 400-meter hurdles gold medalist at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, was elected to join the board when Willi Kaltschmitt of Guatemala leaves in January.