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With just less than seven months left prior to the Tokyo Games, the news conference following the International Olympic Committee’s Executive Board meeting was dominated by the news that the Brisbane 2032 bid is now the sole target to be host of the Games of the XXXV Olympiad.
However, IOC chief Thomas Bach (GER) also noted that significant discussion was also given to the unhappy situation of the International Weightlifting Federation. But Brisbane was the big news:
● Using the IOC’s new selection process, the Brisbane 2032 bid was selected by the Future Host Commission of the Games of the Olympiad to graduate from the “continuous dialogue” phase with multiple possible hosts to the “targeted dialogue” phase.
● Future Host Commission Chair Kristin Kloster Aasen (NOR) told reporters, “It’s not a done deal … It’s a process.” She explained:
“The objective of the targeted dialogue is to co-create an Olympic project with the preferred host. Where there was continuous dialogue, [there was] no formal submission by interested parties; the preferred host is now asked to submit some documents in the targeted dialogue, [including] in the form of guarantees. And these documents will be studied by the Future Host Commission and we will report back to the Executive Board in due course.”
The IOC’s announcement of the “targeted dialogue” phase with Brisbane 2032 was very specific as to why their proposal was preferred:
“- The very advanced Games concept, which is fully aligned with Olympic Agenda 2020 and using 80 to 90 per cent existing or temporary venues.
“- The venue masterplan, which has already been discussed with International Sports Federations and the International Paralympic Committee.
“- The high level of experience in hosting major international sports events.
“- The favourable climate conditions for athletes in July and August, despite the current global challenges caused by climate change.
“- The alignment of the proposed Games with South-East Queensland’s long-term strategy (“SEQ City Deal”, February 2019) to improve local transport infrastructure, absorb demographic change and promote economic growth.
“- Australia’s sporting success throughout modern Olympic history. The last Games in Oceania were Sydney 2000, which would mean the Games returning to the continent 32 years later.
“- The existing and planned transport infrastructure and experience in traffic management, which can adequately meet the demands of the Olympic Games and were successfully implemented for the Commonwealth Games in 2018.
“- The existing hotel accommodation inventory, which already meets Games requirements.
“- Strong support from all three levels of government, as confirmed on several occasions by highest-level representatives from the City of Brisbane, the Southeast Queensland Council of Mayors, the State of Queensland and the federal government.
“- The strong public support and that of the private sector.
“- Australia’s high scores on human development indices, in particular its great progress towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
“In evaluating Brisbane 2032’s proposal, the IOC also took into consideration detailed information from independent third-party sources, including the World Bank, the International Labour Organization, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and numerous UN agencies including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).”
As to why this was done now, Kloster Aasen added:
“The decision to advance the process was taken now given the uncertainty the world is facing at this moment, which is expected to continue even after the Covid-19 health crisis is over. The IOC is seizing the momentum offered by the excellent prospect of Brisbane 2032 and the Australian Olympic Committee, in this way bringing stability to the Olympic Games, the athletes, the IOC and the whole Olympic Movement.”
There were no timeline provided for the ultimate selection of Brisbane, but the carefully-worded comments indicated that the next steps are to negotiate the Host City Contract for 2032 and likely award the Games not later than 2022, some ten years ahead of time.
Tokyo 2020 wasn’t exactly forgotten, but fell to the background at today’s briefing. However:
● The Executive Board did get a report from the Tokyo organizing committee, now led by former Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto. Bach noted:
“She highlighted her strategic priorities, which will focus on safety, on gender equality and legacy and this is, as you know, fully aligned with the vision of delivered safe and secure Games for everybody.”
Bach also announced that the IOC is finalizing its refugee program for Tokyo, including:
“Related to Tokyo 2020, we have also discussed the IOC Refugee Olympic Team. There, Olympic Solidarity is currently supporting 55 promising refugee athletes, originating from 13 countries and being hosted by 21 NOCs across all five continents and representing 12 sports. Since the Olympic Games Rio 2016, Olympic Solidarity has invested more than two million U.S. dollars in support for refugee Olympic scholarship holders, preparing for the Olympic Games.”
As to the possibility for foreign spectators to attend the Games, Bach confirmed that the IOC and the organizers will wait as long as possible before a decision is taken, likely in mid-to-late April or possibly early May.
Then there is weightlifting. Said Bach:
“We then had to turn again, unfortunately, to the International Weightlifting Federation, whose situation, as I mentioned, is becoming more and more grave. The EB expressed its extreme concern, particularly by the lack of significant changes, with regard to the management and the culture there in IWF. We acknowledged that one change in the IWF anti-doping rules has been reversed after the intervention of the Executive Board, but we had also to note that many other requested changes and advice from the IOC, from the ITA, and from external experts, hae been ignored by IWF despite all the warnings we have issued.
“So there, the EB wants to be very clear by saying that if these concerns are not addressed in a satisfactory and timely way, the IOC EB will have to review the place of weightlifting on the program of the Olympic Games Paris 2024, and future Olympic Games.”
The IWF has scheduled elections for 26-27, with a separate vote on a new federation constitution to take place in April. As previously noted on this site earlier in February, many of the candidates for the “new” IWF Executive Board are veterans of the existing Board which has steered the federation into disrepute.
It’s an open question whether the IWF membership is awake enough to follow the IOC’s lead in reforming its operations. But it is certain that the debate in Queensland – and Australia – about whether it can afford to host the 2032 Games will be a hot topic for the next several months.
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