IOC opens debate on major reforms, including host bidding, TV channel

BY foxsports • December 8, 2014


The IOC opened debate Monday on the most sweeping changes to the Olympic movement in decades.

The International Olympic Committee began a special two-day session in Monaco to vote on President Thomas Bach's "Olympic Agenda 2020" reform package.

The 40-point program includes a revised host-city bidding process and more flexible sports program, and creation of an Olympic television channel.

Bach told delegates on the eve of the vote that "the time for change is now."

"If we do not address these challenges here and now we will be hit by them very soon," he said. "If we do not drive these changes ourselves, others will drive us to them. We want to be the leaders of change in sport, not the object."

Bach has moved swiftly since his election in September 2013 to put his stamp on the presidency and rally support for the biggest shake-up in the Olympic movement since the IOC enacted a series of reforms in 1999 after the Salt Lake City bid scandal.

The vote comes at a time when countries have been scared off by the costs of hosting the Olympics. Several cities withdrew from the bidding for the 2022 Winter Olympics, leaving only Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan, in the running.

The IOC will debate and vote one by one on each recommendation. Votes on the bidding and sports program were scheduled for Monday morning. Eight IOC members were absent, leaving 96 members eligible to vote.

Bach has invited feedback from across the OIympic world over the past year, laying the groundwork for what should be approval on all the proposals.

The proposed changes to bidding process will make the process more of an "invitation" and allow prospective candidates to discuss their plans in advance with the IOC to tailor games to their own needs -- and keep them affordable.

To cut down on costs and avoid white elephants, cities will be urged to make maximum use of existing and temporary venues.

Cities will be allowed to hold events in both the Summer and Winter Games outside the host city or country, "notably for reasons of geography and sustainability." This opens the door to joint bids by cities, neighboring countries or regions.

The IOC would abolish the cap of 28 sports for the Summer Games and move to an "events-based" system that would allow new events to come in -- a process that could clear the way for baseball and softball to be added to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The reforms also include plans to launch a digital channel -- possibly as early as next year -- to promote Olympic sports between the games and engage with young viewers. The channel will feature material from the IOC's archives, as well as broadcasts of broadcasts of sports competitions of Olympic sports outside the games.

The IOC also will reword Principle 6 on non-discrimination to include sexual orientation -- a move that followed the controversy over Russia's law against gay "propaganda" ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

The new clause says the Olympics should be free of discrimination "of any kind, such as race, color, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status."

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