International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach welcomed as positive outcomes of Olympic Agenda 2020 the measures and discussions undertaken by the Executive Board (EB), which today concluded two-and-a-half days of meetings in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The IOC EB heard that the five Interested Cities for the Olympic Winter Games 2026 had stressed that they could join the process only because of reforms such as The New Norm, which had allowed them to make the most of the infrastructure they have in place and save on costs. There is an average of 80 per cent existing venues across the five projects, compared with 60 per cent in the two previous candidature procedures; and organisational budgets have also been reduced from around USD 2 billion to USD 1.7 billion, while the contribution from the IOC has increased significantly to USD 925 million.
The IOC President said: “We are not yet in the Candidature Phase; we are in the Dialogue Phase, in which we discuss with cities about maybe becoming a candidate. We have always said we had to change the Candidature Procedure, because the old style produced too many losers. And it is not about having as many candidates as possible, but having at the end the best possible host at this moment in time for the Games. We want a limited number of candidates, which we will then follow up through the further procedure and put to a vote by the IOC Session.”
The event programme for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, with female quota positions increasing from 41 per cent to 45.44 per cent and the addition of several mixed team events, was also a result of Olympic Agenda 2020 recommendations, according to Bach.
The IOC President explained that the competition schedule approved for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 was another reflection of these reforms: “There are new sports with a programme that is more urban, more female-oriented, and also offers the opportunity to have some of the events in Fukushima and other prefectures that were the most affected by the earthquake and tsunami in 2011.”
Furthermore, the impact of Olympic Agenda 2020 could be felt in the decision that any new sports proposed by the Olympic Games Paris 2024 Organising Committee should be considered within the Olympic Charter framework of approximately 10,500 athletes.
The delegation of anti-doping authority at the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018 to the International Testing Agency (ITA) was aligned with the policy of making testing independent from the IOC.
“We want to set an example, which hopefully many International Federations will follow, in order to avoid the perception of any conflict of interests,” explained Thomas Bach.
He recalled the “historic decision” taken by the Executive Board in February in PyeongChang to allocate the Youth Olympic Games 2022 to Africa when recounting the task assigned by the EB to the Evaluation Commission – further assessing the projects of the four candidates with the aim of proposing a maximum of two to be put forward for consideration by the IOC membership.
The diversity of the pool of nine names proposed for election as IOC Members, “coming from very different backgrounds in society, culturally and geographically, and covering a very wide area of skills”, was also highlighted by the IOC President, who mentioned that there were more women amongst the proposed Individual Members to comply with the recommended reforms and seek more gender equality. And he described the appointment of four independent members to the International Council of Arbitration for Sport (ICAS) as “in line with our policy of avoiding wrong perceptions with regard to the independence of and influence on the CAS.”
The issues around certain International Federations (IFs) and National Olympic Committees (NOCs) were mentioned, with encouraging signs being recognised in the steps taken by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF).
“If I would have to highlight one, that would be the qualification criteria for Tokyo 2020, because they link the number of quota places one NOC can achieve to its history of doping offences. This is a very effective and intelligent method, because you do not have collective sanctioning, but a very strong incentive and encouragement to individual athletes and the entire federation,” said Bach.
The progress made by the International Boxing Association (AIBA) was acknowledged, too, but given the many discussions still occurring within the Federation regarding “financial issues, the upcoming elections and good governance measures”, the IOC EB continued to reserve its right to review the inclusion of boxing in the Tokyo 2020 programme.
The IOC President noted that there was now a will in Kuwait to come to a solution for the suspension of the NOC. This had led to the decision by the EB to consider the possibility of lifting the suspension provisionally if some open questions can be addressed to its satisfaction.
As for the difficulties encountered by the delegation of Kosovo in participating in the European Senior Karate Championships in Serbia in May this year, the EB realised that, even when an agreement with all the sports institutions is in place, there can still be last-minute issues when the political situation is complex. Therefore, a decision was taken to make the IFs aware of this complexity and advise them to take this into account when deciding to hold events in this region.
Thomas Bach ended his remarks looking forward to the Esports Forum taking place this Saturday, 21 July, at The Olympic Museum, in Lausanne. Organised by the IOC and the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF), the event will bring together leading figures within the esports industry and the Olympic Movement to discuss opportunities for further engagement and interaction.