The International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s Executive Board (EB) has established a Working Group, consisting of the four IOC Vice Presidents, to explore changes to the candidature procedure. Speaking after the EB meeting in PyeongChang, Republic of Korea, IOC President Thomas Bach said, “The future of the candidature procedure was also discussed today in a very constructive spirit. As a follow-up to Olympic Agenda 2020 and the first steps that we have already taken last year in Rio, where we had the results of the Working Group on future Olympic Winter Games, there were some changes and some ideas, which were already indicated and approved by the Session.”
He continued, “The EB today agreed that we will explore changes in this direction – to make them more concrete. Therefore, we have established a Working Group which consists of the four IOC Vice Presidents which have the task to explore such changes and then to come back to the EB. The exploration should be with the view to make the candidature procedure – as already indicated in decisions we have taken before – more pro-active, more collaborative and less expensive in the future. After we have received the report in the EB, the IOC Members will have the opportunity to discuss these recommendations in July this year when we have the briefing with the candidate cities.”
When asked about the scope of the Working Group’s mandate and its place in the 2024 procedure, Bach noted, “Everything is on the table. And this was exactly what we have discussed in the Board. On the one hand, we have said there can and will be no decision, on the other hand, no option is off the table. So, all the options are on the table and this includes also the 2024/28 procedure and vote.”
Responding to a question about the issues that the Working Group may face and if any eventual changes could be made to the Olympic Charter before the next IOC Session in Lima in September, President Bach commented, “First of all, what we discussed is that we have an opportunity. That we have two excellent candidates from two major Olympic countries, two candidatures which are embracing Olympic Agenda 2020 very much with the great use of existing facilities, with therefore very low investment budgets, with a modern approach to the Games, with great attractivity for the youth. This is the position you like to be in. Even more so if you look at the world in this moment, where we can see a lot of instability, a lot of fragility, a lot of uncertainty. Where we can see many, many changes. Therefore, with this situation, we are in a comfortable position. Now it will be up to the Working Group how to best explore this positive situation and to see what it means.
“With regards to timing, this again will be up to the Working Group. If they come back saying that it is better to make no change then it is done and we will make no change. When they are coming back with a different proposal it will depend on how far the change is going. At this moment, I cannot speculate on this. It will be up to the four Vice Presidents not only to tell us about a solution but also about a timeframe and the feasibility as such.”
Asked if the IOC members would vote on any changes proposed by the Working Group, Bach noted, “This will depend on the changes being proposed. If the Working Group comes back and says the world is perfect, then we may not need to vote on the proposal. If the changes should be more in the regulations, there would also no vote be required. If the changes would reach further then there would be a vote. In case of doubt, I would always be in favour of a vote and a participation by the members on such an essential issue.”
As to any consultation that may take place with the current Candidate Cities, he said, “The consultation will be up to the Working Group to decide and I guess – again – it will depend on their ideas. If their idea is no change, then no reason to consult. If their idea is it could be an opportunity, then they may consider to consult. This is up to them.”
Finally, on how this process works within the context of the current Olympic Charter, Bach commented, “ I am one of the co-authors of the Charter. I know that the Charter is offering some flexibility there. Not only in this respect but in general. Because with a Charter you always have to have room for interpretation to adapt to changing times. So, my feeling is, and I am speaking here under the supervision of the Chair of the Legal Commission of the IOC, my interpretation is, that the Charter is flexible enough also in this respect.”