Writer: Gianni Merlo, President of the AIPS | Photo: Getty Images

The mayor of Rome’s choice not to run for the 2024 Olympics less than one year before the final act wasn’t just only a hard knock for the credibility of Italian sport but also for the number of possible future Olympic candidate cities, one that is becoming lower and lower each time.

AGENDA For the past two years IOC president Thomas Bach through his much-touted Agenda 2020 has attempted to invert the trend of cities and states becoming disillusioned with the Olympic ideal. At first glance Agenda 2020 was a cure-all that would heal the world of sport. Unfortunately the patient’s condition is getting worse!

COST TOO HIGH. WHY? The cost of organising an Olympics, or for that matter any other major sporting event, continues to rise. The enforced greater number of sports and therefore participants places organizers in the unenviable position of having to review budgets, cut costs and in the worst case, lose important revenue that could have been used for legacy projects.

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The time has come to reconsider the whole bidding process, otherwise we will be faced with a situation where only emerging countries that are rich from oil and gas but have poor human rights records can afford to host a Games. Alternatively, cities that have recently hosted the Games and have the necessary facilities could throw their hats in the ring again

It wasn’t by chance that when Athens 2004 struggled to be ready we heard some rather loud suggestions of going back to Sydney. There are not many alternative solutions.

An impression of the proposed ‘Sea Forest Waterway’ in Tokyo Bay.
An impression of the proposed ‘Sea Forest Waterway’ in Tokyo Bay.

TOKYO CHANGES Tokyo 2020 has announced it will transfer some facilities out of the centre of the city and better utilising what is already in place thus effectively overturning the original plan. This should come as no surprise and should be applauded rather than criticised.

The international federations involved in the changes may feel uncomfortable but what can they do? Certainly, they are responsible for the organisation of the competitions and should have some negotiating power. They also receive adequate cash payments, therefore the margins for negotiation are small if not non-existent in the face of the desire of the organisers of the Games to limit the social impact.

‘HIVING OFF’ The movement is increasing towards the ‘hived-off’ Olympics, i.e. divided among several cities in the same country. This type of concept isn’t yet operative but will be ushered in with Tokyo 2020 if, as has been proposed, some sports emigrate to cities that aren’t close. The “Compact Games” concept is no longer sustainable.

THE OLYMPIC VILLAGE Until now, the philosophy of the Olympic appointment has rotated around the Olympic Village, the symbol of the universal nature and the meeting of the youth of the world. This too could become an optional element. Young people are traveling more and more and have the opportunity to mix on many occasions. The concept of spreading the athletes and officials throughout a country and not a city, should be reconsidered. This would follow the example of the FIFA World Cup but who cares. The Olympics have always had a different charm – one that now must adapt to suit its needs. The competition should not suffer and will continue to be a spectacle.

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