Fri, Sep 13, 2013 - Page 20 News List

New IOC president wants to change bidding process

AP, BUENOS AIRES

Newly elected International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach made it clear on Wednesday that he wants to change the bidding process for future Olympics and to make sustainable development a key priority.

In what could be seen as a reference to discontent in Brazil at the spiraling cost of two major sporting competitions — the 2016 Olympics and next year’s World Cup — Bach said he wants the populations of potential host cities to “be part of the candidature at a very early stage” to ensure “more participation and support.”

Bach added that he believes the current bidding system asks for “too much, too early” and leads to predictability, rather than creativity.

“We approach potential candidate cities like you would do in business, with a tender for a franchise. All the bid books are written by the same people around the world — you get the same answers,” he said. “I would like to try and change that mentality a little bit, to think about bidding more as an invitation. I want to invite potential candidates to study how Olympic Games would fit into their long-term city and regional and country development... [and] could contribute to sustainable development in their environment.”

On Saturday, Tokyo was selected to host the 2020 Summer Olympics, fending off rival bids from Istanbul and Madrid.

The Spanish capital was subject to criticism of misguided priorities, as the country grapples with a double-dip recession and 27 percent unemployment. The Japanese government faced similar concerns over the idea that it should focus on the crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, rather than spending billions of dollars on the Olympics.

Next year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, are expected to run up a budget of more than US$50 billion — the most expensive Games to date.

Sebastian Coe, who led last year’s London Games, said Tokyo should “get out of the blocks very quickly” in realizing its plans for 2020, and “be prepared to work harder than you’ve ever worked in your life on any single project.”

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