Do you remember that the International Olympic Committee had to decide on a host city for the 2030 Winter Games as early as December?
Well, that’s even more up in the air after IOC President Thomas Bach made it clear there was no pressure to stick to the timetable he set out earlier this year. , now that the annual session in which all IOC members will ratify the 2030 pick has been postponed. from May 2023 until the fall of next year.
Bach told reporters in a virtual press conference on Friday that it would be up to the future Winter Olympics Host Commission to decide whether to take more time to assess Salt Lake City’s bids; Sapporo, Japan; and Vancouver, Canada; before making recommendations to the IOC Executive Board.
The commission was due to meet in November to prepare recommendations so that the board can decide at a meeting in early December which city – or possibly cities – to move on to contract negotiations to host in 2030, so-called targeted dialogue under the new IOC, less formal bidding process.
Now, Bach said, when IOC leaders narrow the field, it’s up to the commission to decide.
“It will be in the hands of the Future Host Commission, to see if they still want to come to the EC (executive council) in December or at a later stage,” he said, promising that neither “the executive council nor As president, I will interfere in their procedures, in their planning and in their agenda.
The commission, led by Romanian IOC member Octavian Morariu, only heard about the postponement of the annual session after the decision was taken by the executive board on Thursday following the possible suspension of the national Olympic committee. of the host country, India.
“They will have to take that into consideration and then come up with a timeline. It’s in their hands,” Bach said, noting that the commission is part of what he called “a revolution in our process” of selecting Olympic hosts and “it gives them a lot of autonomy.”
Although the Games have traditionally been awarded seven years in advance, there is no specific timeline in the new bidding process used for the first time to select a host for the Winter Games. The IOC Executive Board typically meets quarterly, so a decision on its part may not be forthcoming until mid-2023.
“We are ready at any time”
Fraser Bullock, president and CEO of the Salt Lake City-Utah Games committee bidding for 2030 and 2034, is unsure whether to expect the IOC to take advantage of the extra time available before the start of the Games. the next application phase.
“I don’t know. Given that the IOC session is only expected to be pushed back a few months, it could go either way,” Bullock said. “Whether they pursue their recommendation in December or at a future board meeting, we have full confidence in their process.”
The Salt Lake Bid Team met virtually with the future Host Commission last year and had an in-person meeting with President Morariu during a June trip to the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. said Bullock. “They were very helpful to us in thinking about our candidacy.”
The members of the commission, which include representatives from sports, athletes and National Olympic Committees, “have already received an enormous amount of information from us. They got everything they asked for. They therefore know that we are ready at any time for further discussions,” he said.
Bullock declined to say whether Salt Lake City, which hosted the 2002 Winter Games, would be helped or hurt by a longer wait.
“Remember our offer is for ’30 or ’34, so we have a very long view. We’re ready for discussions, we’re ready to host at a time that matches the Olympic movement,” Bullock said. Salt Lake City had been considered a 2030 favorite alongside Sapporo, but the Utah capital’s focus has shifted to 2034.
Indeed, staging back-to-back Olympics in the United States with Los Angeles hosting the 2028 Summer Games has become more complicated in a struggling international economy, affecting sponsorships and other revenue needed to cover costs.
Politics play a role
Geopolitics also played a role, with Bach expressing concern over the US response to hosting the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing despite China’s human rights record, warning during meetings of the bid team in Lausanne that many IOC members left with “bad feelings”.
Still, with what were seen as two big favourites, there was speculation that the IOC would award the 2030 and 2034 Winter Games at the same time. Bach, however, said recently that a decision on 2034 would have to wait until his successor is in place, in about three years.
Any delay in a 2030 decision gives Salt Lake City rivals room to consolidate their offers, said Ed Hula, a columnist for Around the Rings, a longtime Olympics news source he founded in Atlanta that is now based in Buenos Aires.
“I think it gives everyone more time to line up those ducks,” Hula said, describing Vancouver as having “some way to go to get their structure in place.” What would be the first Indigenous-led Olympics has yet to gain the necessary support from government entities.
Sapporo, he said, must settle more serious ‘political issues’ posed by a corruption scandal involving an executive from last year’s Summer Games in Tokyo who faces charges in connection with allegations that he received some $900,000 in payments from companies that later became Olympic sponsors. .
But Hula said the extra time could also cause contestants to drop out.
“I think it still remains to be seen what will happen with the Japanese bid. The government might decide not to support it, because of the controversy and the scandal of this deal,” he said, d Especially since the level of public support for Sapporo’s bid was only around 50% before the scandal.
The mayor of Sapporo has already canceled a planned visit to the IOC in Lausanne, citing scheduling issues. On Friday, IOC spokesman Mark Adams responded to questions about the impact of the scandal, who said that while there are “a whole range of safeguards” already in place, “we don’t live in a perfect world, I’m afraid”.
Adams told reporters that “obviously the IOC is taking note of these allegations with full confidence in the Japanese authorities to deal with them. And of course it is in our interest, in the interest of the IOC, to do so that this matter is clarified. The IOC and the Olympic Games do not operate in a bubble.
Hula isn’t ruling out Salt Lake City being slated to host in 2030, suggesting the extra time that may come could be the boost needed to find a way to make hosting the 2030 Winter Games just 18 work. months after the Los Angeles Olympics.
“That’s why the IOC is calm and collected about this,” Hula said. “He knows he has a potential candidate like Salt Lake City behind the scenes.”