IOC members embrace change

9 December 2014

AGENDA 2020: The President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, declared it “decision day” as the IOC set about reforming the movement.

Bach described the 40 recommendations in Olympic Agenda 2020 as a jigsaw and very soon the pieces of progress started falling into place at the 127th Session in Monaco. Eventually all were approved unanimously.

First the overhaul of the bidding process, driven by John Coates, the President of the Australian Olympic Committee and a Vice President of the IOC, received unanimous support from the members.

The new bid plan includes sharing events outside the host city and the host country but only under exceptional circumstances.  

“Flexibility will involve some compromise” he said. The IOC Executive Board would approve two countries or cities sharing events “if it produces the best outcome”.

By splitting events the hosts will be able to make maximum use of existing facilities in the different cities and avoid the costs of building new venues. “The Games will be more universal if the costs are reduced”.

Alarmed by the spiralling cost of bidding to host the Games the IOC accepted the challenge to reduce costs and allow smaller countries to be involved. Reform was essential after 4 cities, Oslo, Stockholm, Lviv and Krakow all withdrew from the bidding race for the Winter Games in 2022.

Coates told the meeting “bidding has to be appealing and sustainable for those cities. Bidding must be a win, win, for both parties, the bid city and the IOC”.

Coates rejected suggestions that such a move would undermine the uniqueness of the Games. “The importance of the Olympic Village remains paramount and there will be no compromise on the field of play” he said.

Under the new plan the IOC will invite potential candidate cities to present an Olympic project that best matches their sports, economic, social and environmental long-term planning needs.

“No one plan fits all. No city is the same. Under the new model cities can propose different models to be successful”.

Of equal importance the decision to change the Olympics from sport-based to event-based allowing more than 28 sports to on the program and giving the host city a choice to include their favourite sports.

The Japanese want softball and baseball on the program when Tokyo hosts the Games in 2020. They are in the driver’s seat.

The meeting voted to accept 310 events on the program in future. London 2012 had 302 events. That opens the door as long as the number of athletes remains at a total or 10,500.

Sports on the standby list include squash, baseball and softball. Skateboarding and surfing with their youth appeal are also keen contenders.

There was a strong emphasis on including more mixed gender events to boost female participation.  The London Games had 44% female participation the IOC is working towards 50%.

The approval of a dedicated Olympic TV channel was a big reform that will be the vehicle to help promote Olympics sports outside of the Olympics Games as well as the activities of organising committees and national olympic committees. More here>>>

The debate and voting on Olympic Agenda 2020 were scheduled to last two days, but such was the support for the 20+20 recommendations – with 83 interventions in total – that the process concluded on the first day.

Each recommendation, voted on individually, received the full backing of the 96 IOC members in attendance. There were no votes against and no abstentions. As an additional show of unity for Olympic Agenda 2020, the members gave their unanimous support for the entire set of recommendations in an en bloc vote at the close of today’s meeting.

President Bach, who initiated the Olympic Agenda 2020 discussions a year-and-a-half ago, thanked the Session on what he described as a “very important and positive day for the IOC and the Olympic Movement.”

Mike Tancred at the IOC Session

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