International Olympic Committee (IOC) Presidential candidate Thomas Bach has indicated that a shake-up of the Olympic Games bidding process and sports program is on the agenda if he is elected to succeed incumbent Jacques Rogge later on this year.
As part of his “Unity in Diversity” election manifesto the 59-year-old IOC vice-president, who is also head of the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB), claimed that the bidding process needs to be more flexible to make it more attractive to more cities across the world.
“We must ensure that organizing the Games is attractive and feasible for as many cities and countries as possible,” Bach, who won the team foil gold medal at the Montréal 1976 Olympic fencing event, said during a conference call from Berlin.
“We may have to reconsider our bidding procedure to make it more encouraging while ensuring operational excellence.
“The bidding process should be a real invitation for candidatures and show we embrace the different social, culture and political backgrounds.
“We embrace this diversity which would also be reflected in the organizing of the Games.
“Therefore, we may have to see if our bidding procedure is not requesting too much too early.
“Maybe there is a way we can ensure the operational excellence while allowing for more creativity, more diversity in the approach to organizing the Games.
“To make it clear that the standards from one part of the world alone are not applicable and that the Games have to reflect the diversity in our modern world.”
Equally, he mentions the Olympic sports program, which he likens to a “jigsaw puzzle,” as something he would perhaps rethink if he succeeds in his campaign to become the next leader of the IOC.
The current process has come under fire in recent months after it saw wrestling – a sport which can trace its Olympic pedigree back at least 25 centuries – axed from the list of core Games sports after Rio 2016.
While Bach says he is keen to stay within the 10,500-athlete limit, he insists “flexibility” must be the order of the day in terms of disciplines to ensure the “sustainability” of the Olympics.
“I see the Olympic program like a jigsaw puzzle,” he said.
“All the pieces have to harmonize and fit together.
“You cannot just simply replace one piece or some pieces with others because you may destroy the harmony of the whole picture.
“Whenever we take a decision on the program we have to know before and consider very carefully what this means to sustainability with regards to sports facilities – permanent or temporary.
“This is why I think we should definitely keep the limit on the number of athletes and we should establish a limit on the number of permanent facility.
“Within this framework then we could gain good flexibility with regards to the program, look more at the disciplines rather than at sports as whole.”
Meanwhile, Bach, who is in charge of negotiating the IOC’s European television rights, also unveiled his “vision” for a dedicated Olympic television channel to boost engagement in the four years between the Olympics, particularly among the younger generations.
“This is a vision, this is nothing you can manage in one two three, in four or five years,” he said.
“But, as our Chinese friends say every long journey starts with the first step and it is time to undertake this first step.
“We have already an Olympic TV production and we see that many Olympic sports do not appear enough across the world on TV.
“This is not a question about money.
“This is a question about addressing the youth.
“If it would be only about money and the Games the actual system works pretty well.
“We sell well our TV rights, we have excellent ratings all over the world so from this perspective there would not be the need for change.”
Broadcast rights revenues are the IOC’s biggest source of income – the amount raised for the 2013-2016 period is already more than $4 billion (£2.6 billion/€3.1 billion), with a few territories still unsold.
Bach is one of six candidates challenging to become the most powerful leader in world sport, alongside Singapore’s Ng Ser Miang of Singapore, Richard Carrión of Puerto Rico, C K Wu of Taiwan, Ukraine’s Sergey Bubka and Swiss Denis Oswald.
All six will now present their programmes to IOC members during an Extraordinary IOC Session in Lausanne on July 3 and 4, before the election takes place at the 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires on September 10.
Contact the writer of this story at email@example.com. Inside the Games is an online blog of the London Organizing Committee that staged the 2012 London Games. The blog continues to cover issues that are important to the Olympic Movement. This article is reprinted here with permission of the blog editors.