By Barry Janoff
December 8, 2016: Stating that the system "produces too many losers," International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said today the IOC must change the arduous and costly procedure that potential cities must endure via a current multi-stage process that takes more than two years to complete.
With just about nine months to go until the final decision, Los Angeles, Paris and Budapest each took the next major steps toward securing a vote by the IOC that would see one of the three being named to host the 2024 Summer Games.
All three were lauded by Thomas as being "strong contenders" that help to support the "positive perception of the Olympics and the Olympic Games."
However, Bach also stressed that even with the adoption in 2014 of "Olympic Agenda 2020" — a set of reforms intended to reduce costs and challenges facing potential host cities — the number of cities that have dropped bids or decided not to proceed after initial interest has grown.
"We have three strong candidates for 2024. But we have to take into consideration that the procedure as it exists now produces too many losers," Bach said during a press conference in Lausanne, Switzerland, following the IOC’s General Meeting. "We are happy one day about the strong number of candidates, but then unhappy the next (when cities drop out).
"That is not the purpose of the Olympic candidate procedure. We will have to look into this. It is about change, and we will continue to change," said Bach.
Both Rome and Hamburg decided not to proceed with bids that had been initiated to host the 2024 Games, and several other cities dropped out of the process early on, according to industry analysts.
In the bidding process prior to that, to host the 2022 Winter Games, a number of cities dropped out, leaving the IOC to select from two: eventual winner Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan.
That is a dramatic fall from the bidding process for the 2004 Summer Games, when almost a dozen cities were in contention at one point to host the event, won by Athens.
Even as recently as the bidding process for the 2016 Summer Games saw at one point seven cities vying to be host, ultimately won by Rio de Janeiro.
"The procedure for 2024 is well underway and we are very happy. That is why the executive board promoted all three cities to the next stage," said Bach. "But we have to think long-term. We have already started in a way for 2024 by reducing the number of losers. In this invitation phase we have already advised three other potential candidate cites not to put their (bids) forward.
"One of the points to be considered is how to strengthen this invitation phase, entering into dialogue with some cities at an even earlier stage and go into more detail. I am absolutely sure that we have to make changes in this procedure," said Bach.
Bach also addressed another key issue: Olympic Game budgets, specifically the cost overruns that have plagued Tokyo as host of the 2020 Summer Games and subsequent moves to reduce those costs.
Politicians and host officials in Tokyo in October said that the Games could cost $30 billion to run, about four times the amount of the original estimate.
"Our message is very clear and has been expressed in Tokyo: The costs can be further reduced," said Bach. "The figure published for the overall budget was at $30 billion and has already been reduced to $20 billion. This can be further reduced to a feasible and sustainable (figure).
"(Right now) we are looking at a savings of (another) $2 billion," said Bach.
The committee overseeing Los Angeles’s bid for 2024 this month released what it called a revised "balanced budget that offers no surprises for the City of Los Angeles and the Olympic Movement based on realistic revenue projections and a low-risk Games Concept."
LA 2024 said its budget is "balanced with $5.3 billion of revenue and cost, leaving a net position of $0 and a contingency of $491.9 million (10.2% of costs)."
Paris 2024’s most recent budget submission was estimated at $6.6 billion while Budapest came in at $3.41 billion, according to the IOC.
The budget, according to LA 2024, is based on the "convergence of favorable conditions in Los Angeles today," including:
• An Olympic and Paralympic Village already in place at UCLA’s state-of-the-art campus accommodation.
• More than 30 world-class competition and non-competition venues in place or planned by private investors attracted to the LA market.
• L.A.’s current massive public transportation upgrade that will transform mobility in the city, with $88 billion in ongoing public transit investment, $14 billion modernization of LAX underway, in addition to the $120 billion in transit funding approved by L.A. County voters in November.
• The strong foundation of a resilient, dynamic and growing state economy which ranks California as the sixth largest in the world.
The process for all three cities bidding for 2024 continues in February, the deadline for them to file a "Candidate Cities Games Delivery, Experience and Venue Legacy," followed by a visit to each city by members of the IOC closer to the summer.
The IOC’s decision on the 2024 Games host city is scheduled for Sept. 17.
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