The 2024, 2026 and 2028 Olympic Games host city crisis solved in a stroke

Lima: where, at its next Session, the IOC can solve its current host cities crisis until 2028

In my previous blog, I argued that the IOC needed to adopt a totally different approach to selecting host cities for the Olympic Games. My key recommendations were, first, to put an end to the current open bidding system. Instead, the IOC should proactively approach potential host countries/cities and negotiate directly with them. Second, no taxpayers’ dollars should be spent on hosting any future Games (except on security requirements).

Importantly, all decisions relating to future host cities should be made in a rational way, including the final selection of city. Inevitably, this would mean that, in the long run, there would no longer be a selection vote by IOC members, because there would be only one candidate.

I suggested the following process:

  1. The IOC’s Executive Board chooses two countries/cities (eg. A and B) with priority given to City A (City B would only come into play if City A was no longer viable for whatever reason);
  2. Negotiations with country/city A would be carried out by the IOC itself;
  3. If the negotiations were successful, the Executive Board would then propose city A as the Host City to the full IOC Session and ask for its approval.

An additional advantage of using my proposed system would be that the candidate Host Cities would be freed from the need to have extremely expensive bidding and lobbying campaigns. Nowadays, these campaigns can potentially cost up to 50-60 million dollars.

Since I posted my blog, I have received a number of comments about my proposal (including from IOC Members). Tellingly, there has not been a single negative response. I cautiously conclude, therefore, that within the IOC there is also a realisation that the current system is no longer sustainable and needs reform. This was also further confirmed by President Bach during his PASO-speech in Uruguay.

This September, the IOC will select the 2024 Host City and there is considerable speculation that it will award both the 2024 and 2028 Games simultaneously. If it does so, the IOC would de facto be applying my proposed system, namely:

  • The IOC Session might make a choice between Paris or Los Angeles to be the 2024 Host City, unless there is an agreement made with the two cities;
  • The city that is not chosen would then automatically become city A (as above) for 2028.

In my previous blog, I also recommended hosting the 2026 Winter Games in Switzerland. This is not only because Switzerland would be a fantastic setting for the Winter Games, but also because in the past this Alpine country has too often rejected potential bids to host the Olympic Games. Now, there is once again an excellent potential Swiss candidate, from three cantons (including Vaud-Lausanne). I would urge the IOC to grab this opportunity and start negotiations as soon as possible with this bid. Switzerland would thus become candidate A for 2026.

I understand from my contacts at the IOC, as well as in the cantons of Vaud and Valais, that conversations between them are already taking place. So far so good. However, it would make sense if the IOC immediately let it be known publicly that these negotiations are taking place and that it is giving Switzerland priority (the A-status) for 2026 – and that it is therefore not seeking other candidates for now. The IOC could then apply the same policy for 2026/2030 as is suggested above for 2024/2028. In other words, appoint a B-city for 2026 that would automatically the A-city for 2030.

It all seems completely logical to me and I can’t help wondering ‘what are we waiting for? In a stroke, the IOC could solve the current crisis until 2028 at its upcoming Lima Session – and the decision for the 2030 Winter Games would only need to be taken in 2023.

This would also mean that there was no hurry for the time being to revise the Olympic Charter concerning the rights of IOC Members to vote on Host Cities. In Lima, the Session would decide/vote on 2024 and 2028 – and appoint Switzerland, the only serious candidate in the running up until now, as its A-candidate for 2026.

As President Bach confirmed in Uruguay, “the time of the current bidding system is over”. He has wisely appointed a heavyweight commission, comprising his four Vice-Presidents, to come up with a revised system. It is clear the IOC’s options are being dictated by the situation today, namely a lack of high quality potential Host Cities. I am personally convinced that a large majority of Members will fully understand the need for a new system and will support ideas that take us out of the current crisis and which guarantee high-level host cities until at least 2028.

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