By Gianni Merlo, AIPS President
The IOC seems to be sailing full speed towards the choice of assigning two summer Olympics, for 2024 and 2028, in one swoop. President Thomas Bach is stubborn and wants to change the procedure quickly to avoid future chaos. He has realised that times have changed and he wants to find new solutions quickly. He also knows that, in this case, certain choices have to be imposed. A popular referendum among the members may have some risks and the Extraordinary Session convened for July 11 and 12 July will not be easy to manage, even though any opposition has little time to organise itself.
ONLY CHOICE Bach maintains, “In the current political climate, it’s difficult to be able to count on the support of the government, political parties and possible sponsors without the public thinking that somebody is trying to line their pockets. Suspicion pollutes everything and that’s why we have to change the rules of play. We’re lucky enough to have two great candidacies – excellent, safe and perfect as choices, also for investment and sporting philosophy.” The practical philosophy is better the egg today than the chicken tomorrow.
UNIQUE Then he ventured, “This is a unique opportunity so why should we let it slip through our fingers? We’ve started to talk to the cities but we haven’t made any offer to date. Our working group, of four vice presidents, has told us that we can choose two cities in one swoop – our Charter allows this. So, as the Executive Committee, we have unanimously decided to call an Extraordinary Session in Lausanne on 11 and 12 July, where attendance at the presentation of the two cities by all our IOC members was already planned. Thus our colleagues will comment on the opportunity or not of making this choice and, if the response is positive, there will be the final vote in Lima in September and the attribution to the two cities of the Games of 2024 and 2028.”
WHITE LIE Paris and Los Angeles have agreed to discuss this, but the parties were already at the negotiation stage before, which Bach now denies. This is normal. The French offer says that it can only be available for 2024. Los Angeles would like to be chosen straight away but seems more open to Solution B, also because it has been offered tempting economic incentives to sweeten the wait. The only variable is the response of the IOC members who would see their decision-making role down-sized and would no longer be courted by the candidates and their armies of communication consultants.
THE QUESTION Will the members agree to wearing the habit of humility and accept solutions that may be drastic to save the Olympic world? This is a delicate question. What would they be given in exchange for the loss of the power to vote? Perhaps they will be more involved in the work in the area, work that may be obscure but is very useful. They will have to revolutionise their Olympic lifestyle. The intelligent ones will understand immediately; the others will try to defend their privileges at first but they are destined to lose.
THE REVOLUTION A series of changes are already under the microscope for the Winter Olympic candidacies of 2026 – just one year of preparation, IOC experts who work free of charge for the cities to prepare the dossier and a shared final choice. It is still not clear how but Bach no longer wants final sprints with votes. He’s obsessed with the idea that a candidacy can be considered a loser…. Why should those in sport be afraid of losing? Isn’t this a contradiction? In some way it is, but it looks that in the coming years the IOC will study the possibility of organizing the Games directly. Francesco Ricci Bitti, president of ASOIF, is sure that this is the direction to study.
DEFEATS AND CORRUPTION It seems that, in the rush for candidacies, it is not a contradiction, as bids invest up to a hundred million dollars in two years and, in the end, they have to account for how they’ve uselessly spent this money. In this case, the defeat leaves no legacy, only rancour. In addition, a sober selection process for future sites will keep the temptations of corruption away, which should not be underestimated; it is actually tempting to say that such a choice is essential.
SPORTS AND THE FUTURE The Executive Committee has chosen to include 15 new disciplines in 12 sports in the programme of Tokyo 2020. Swimming has had the lion’s share, and basketball has managed to include 3×3. Bach says that, in this way, the Games will be more oriented to young people, urban situations and women but the public was rather disconcerted.
WOMEN AND THE THIRD GENDER It now seems a fixation – more women are needed. Some time ago, this was considered a suggestion that hid something obscene but now it’s a must. We’re close to 50% participation of women and then what will happen? Will we have to start defending men’s rights? However, another new, delicate problem is arising and it will be difficult to resolve – the third gender. Should it be associated with men or women? Or should there be a separate recognition? In the women’s sector, many medals and successes have gone to representatives of the third gender. Is this right? Unfortunately, there are those already speculating about this and there are talent scouts uninhibited in the search for people with such ‘special features’, as they can be worth a fortune. I think that there should be clarity straightaway to prevent media massacres like those suffered by Caster Semenya and unpleasant, uncivil controversies.