MONACO (Reuters) - When the International Olympic Committee members vote on 40 recommendations next week to change the way the Games are awarded and run they will be saying ‘yes’ to the biggest single overhaul of the Olympics in decades.
The idea behind the recommendations IOC President Thomas Bach has been frantically pushing since taking over in September 2013 is to breath new life into the world’s biggest multi-sports event that has lost some of its lustre in recent years.
The fact that only two cities are left in the race for the 2022 winter Olympics, with four pulling out over financial concerns or a lack of public support, is clear proof of a need to rethink the concept of the Olympics.
Rising costs that peaked at a staggering $51 billion for this year’s Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia have made it difficult for cities to see the potential advantages of hosting the Games.
A complex system that manages the Games sports programme and allows new sports to eventually be present at the Olympics has also proved obsolete, according to Bach.
So the IOC’s 100-plus members at the session in Monaco on Monday are expected to endorse his “Agenda 2020” with changes to the bidding process, the sports programme, the creation of an Olympic broadcaster and making the Games cheaper among others.
The IOC wants to attract more cities to bidding, and is eager to make the process easier, more flexible and more in line with the cities’ own plans for the future.
Bach said it should be “more like an invitation” and not a dry tender application where the IOC orders cities to meet their criteria.
Currently bid cities spend as much as $100 million for a two-year campaign.
“We want to show with this procedure that the IOC is opening up, that we are opening a window and we want to have fresh wind coming in,” Bach said recently.
Sports can now hope for a quicker inclusion in the Games as the IOC is keen to maximise their impact in specific territories with baseball and softball seen as likely additions to the Tokyo 2020 Games, with both sports hugely popular in Japan.
Currently sports need to wait seven years from being admitted to actually making their debut at the Games.
In one of the biggest IOC U-turns in years, Games organisers will be allowed to hold some events in other cities or even countries for reasons of sustainability and geography, an issue that was long an IOC taboo for fear of watering down the impact of the Olympics if there were multiple hosts.
The IOC will also vote on the creation of an Olympic broadcast channel that will also benefit by the moving of the Youth Olympics (summer and winter) to a non-Olympic year from 2023.
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Ossian Shine