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Olympic Games hosts – Who’s next?

If either Paris or LA is eliminated from the summer 2024 Games, neither will bid for 2028 or anytime soon. So, it would be best to award both Games in the above order this September, upon deliberation with both candidates. If they agree on the need but can’t agree who goes first, let the membership vote on the order. Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Paris 1924 Summer Games will add much needed historical brand value to the Olympic Movement. Then, LA will come to the Olympic Games rescue, as it did when it was the sole candidate in 1984, amidst the politically motivated Games boycotts from 1976 to 1984. Unless logic prevails, the IOC and the Games concept will be thrown into a dangerous, existential spin. The IOC needs to safeguard its position and use the time bought to rethink its existence and its marquis events

Waning interest to host the Games and candidate dropouts, have put the current bidding process into doubt. Five countries dropped out of the bidding for the 2022 Winter Olympics, mostly after public opposition. Beijing ended up beating Almaty, Kazakhstan, neither an ideal winter Games location. Hamburg, Rome and Budapest dropped out of the 2024 Summer Games, well into the Candidature process, concerned over costs and public opposition. The Sochi ’14 and Rio ’16 Games debacles fueled further concerns over the viability of hosting the Games under their current structure.

An immediate fix of the current 3-Stage Candidature process should require the aspiring hosts to conduct a referendum at the conclusions of Stage 1, which should present the proposed budget of their Games Vision and Concept to the voters. After a proper, public debate, a 66% approval vote should be required before each host is invited to move on to the next stages and complete its bid effort.

The IOC needs to realize that the Olympic Games are not just a sporting event. The Summer Olympic Games represent the biggest mobilization of resources in peacetime. Their financials and global reach make it a political event, with sport as its output. Since the IOC requires the host country (i.e. the State) to guarantee the Games budget, plus invest in the infrastructure required in order to upgrade the country, awarding and staging the Games is certainly a political process affecting the Host and the Movement. Vetting doping and human rights infractions among candidates is already a political measure the IOC has adopted. Sidestepping candidatures from rogue countries is another political decision. The only thing separating Sport from Politics should be the use sport for political propaganda.

The bidding process needs to be re-invented beyond Agenda 2020, which didn’t do much tom prevent the flight of candidates since its adaptation in late 2014. The IOC needs to become more humble and strategically proactive. It should reach out to a limited number of properly screened candidates and convince them to come forth on the basis of the assistance the host will receive to prepare for and deliver the Games. The Host’s and the Movement’s Legacy is what will sustain the oldest running festival in the world.

Future Summer Games should be awarded to nations who will put forth 3 to 4 cluster cities to host the 18 day event. It will reduce costs and spread benefits; it will also increase visitor numbers and fans in the stands. Winter Games should be limited to hosts combining a large urban area for the indoor events, with a nearby ski resort already developed for world class competitions and winter holiday makers.

Then, again, the Summer Olympics could move permanently to select locations in Greece and the Winter Games to select locations in the USA.

This should be the IOC’s Agenda 2030.

George Courmouzis

Athens, Greece

(George Courmouzis has been involved professionally with the Olympics since the Montreal 1976 Games, culminating with the Athens 2004 Games. He built a pioneering sports management and marketing business at the international level)