“Absolutely, it’s very complex,” says Felli of the challenge of staging the Games. “Size-wise, you’re organising around 41 world championships in the same city at the same time for a Summer Games, while for a Winter Games it is like holding 15 world championships.”
According to Felli, the Winter Games also produce their own unique challenges for Organising Committees (OCOGs).
“You definitely have added complexities with the Winter Games,” he says. “You have to deal with the mountains, the mountain roads and the snow, which are not factors for a Summer Games.”
As well as providing financial support during Games preparations, the IOC also offers OCOGs technical support, with help and advice at every stage of planning and preparation, in order to allow them to deliver the best Games possible.
“Firstly, we clearly define the obligations of an Organising Committee, so they understand exactly what they have to do,” explains Felli. “Secondly, we help and educate them by organising specific seminars, beginning from the bid phase, to explain to them the different aspects and phases of Games preparations. As soon as the structure of the Organising Committee has been formalised, we meet with them to finalise the master schedule of the Games preparations, detailing what they have to deliver over the seven years of preparations, and we agree the various deadlines with them.”
During Games preparations, the IOC provides OCOGs with Technical Manuals on every aspect of the Games, while they also have access to the Olympic Games Knowledge Management (OGKM) programme, which offers host cities the latest knowledge that has been gained from the hard work and experience of previous Games hosts.
Experts from the IOC and previous OCOGs also work closely with organisers to ensure they’re moving forward in the best way possible, according to Felli.
“We send experts in various Games functions from the IOC and past Organising Committees – people who have experience in these areas – to organise seminars on specific issues,” he says.
Felli says that the IOC also monitors Games preparations in a variety of ways.
“We have the main Coordination Commission, made up of the different entities of the Olympic Family, which visits once a year in the first three years, and then twice a year after that,” he said. “In between that, around two or three times a year, we have what we call Project Reviews, and then on a daily basis we have people in our administration talking to people within the Organising Committee to understand where we are with preparations.”
As the Games draw closer, the IOC’s working partnership with the OCOG becomes even closer, with some staff and experts already on the ground two or three months before the Games to help the organisers and to discuss any last minute issues with them.
Following the conclusion of the Games, the IOC will continue working with the OCOG in order to share the knowledge and experience gained from the Games with future host cities.
“When everything has finished, we do what we call a ‘debrief’ where we try to understand what went well, what we should change and then we are able to draw a certain number of conclusions, so we can modify our Technical Manuals or guidelines,” says Felli. “We always do that with the Organising Committee, but also with future Organising Committees, so they can start their own preparations with some prior knowledge.”