IOC debates changes to Olympic bidding process

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 5, 2014 at 4:31 am •  Published: February 5, 2014
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SOCHI, Russia (AP) — The IOC launched a debate Wednesday on the future of Olympic bidding, including the possibility of individual country or joint bids rather than the tradition of choosing a single host city.

IOC President Thomas Bach opened the floor to a wide-ranging discussion on his "Olympic Agenda 2020," his blueprint for the organization and the running of the games.

The process is aimed at charting a new course for the IOC under Bach, who was elected in September to succeed Jacques Rogge, who served for 12 years.

Wednesday's debate also dealt with the process for determining which sports are in the Olympics and whether to lift the current cap of 28 sports and 10,500 athletes for the Summer Games.

No final decisions are being taken at the IOC session, or general assembly, in Sochi. Proposals will be formulated after the games and put up for a vote at a special meeting in Monaco in December.

However, the opening morning of debate provided a sense of the key issues and the general trend of opinion among the 100-plus members.

IOC vice president John Coates said the members should consider whether countries — rather than cities — should bid for the Olympics and whether to allow joint bids from different countries or cities.

Under IOC rules, a single city bids to host the Olympics. Joint bids are not permitted.

The possibility of changing the system drew a mostly negative reaction, with members stressing that the Olympics enjoy a special status of taking place in one city.

"One of the unique aspects of the Olympic Games is the unity of time and place," Canadian member Dick Pound said. "It's not an event made in a television studio. It's what happens on the ground. We should be very careful about destroying that."

The view was echoed by Israeli member Alex Gilady.

"If we go to a country, we will lose the Olympic Village," he said. "The Olympic Village is perhaps the most important uniqueness of the Olympic Games. Maybe it could be done in the Winter Games, but in the summer if we change the concept from city to country we may start the end of the games."

Two athlete members, Australian rower James Tomkins and swimmer Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe, also opposed any change. Coventry said athletes would lose the "level of competition" they are used to in a single host city.

Many members spoke in favor of reinstating visits to bid cities in a controlled system paid for and organized by the IOC. Visits were banned in 1999 in the wake of the Salt Lake City bid scandal which led to the ouster of 10 members for accepting cash, scholarships and other inducements.

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