THE BIG PICTURE: IOC Session confirms all of the Bach-led reforms for now and the future

The International Olympic Committee membership agreed with all of the initiatives and reforms passed by its Executive Board and gave its President, Thomas Bach (GER), a sweeping confirmation of the path he has chose for the organization.

Meeting in Lausanne (SUI) beginning the day after the 125th anniversary of the revival of the Olympic Games, the Session passed all of the items submitted, including:

Changes to the Olympic Charter regarding the selection of the host of the Games, which can now be a city, region, or even multiple countries, elected at any time and a permanent set of commissions of IOC members for the Olympic and Winter Games to effect a continuing dialogue with any group that wishes to discuss a possible bid.

Confirmation of Paris 2024’s request to add four sports to the program: break dancing, sport climbing, skateboarding and surfing.

Suspension of the International Boxing Association (AIBA) from the management of boxing going forward to the 2020 Olympic Games. The IOC will, through a working group, create the qualification tournaments and manage the Olympic tournament in Tokyo in 2020.

Election of 10 new members to bring the IOC membership total to 105.

And Milan-Cortina was selected as the host of the 2026 Olympic Winter Games, by a 47-34 vote.

All of these had been expected, but they will have significant impacts.

The changes in the bidding process continue Bach’s desire to re-shape the hard-edged, winner-take-all bid competitions of the past and create a more collaborative, less predictable, more fluid process. The old procedures had easy-to-understand requirements and timetables. The new program has none of those things and allows the IOC to pick – quite quickly if it wants to – a host city for a future Games without much (if any) fanfare, or anxiety.

Although not connected to the passage of these reforms, the IOC membership also confirmed that the architect, Australian John Coates, would be able to serve beyond the normal age limit of 70 (he’s 69 now) to the end of 2024 in view of his position as the head of the IOC’s Legal Commission. That’s important for the potential 2032 Games bid from South East Queensland which he has championed.

The announcement of the four sports for Paris included two important notes in the IOC’s announcement:

“The IOC Executive Board will make the final decision on the existing events, proposed new events and related athlete quotas for the Olympic Games Paris 2024 in December 2020.

“After today’s vote by the IOC Session, no further sports can be put forward for inclusion on the sports programme of the Olympic Games Paris 2024.”

That means the end of the furious effort by the World Karate Federation to get on the Paris program; it will make its debut in Tokyo in 2020. It also underlines the importance of the Youth Olympic Games as a trial venue for new sports; breaking got some interest at the Buenos Aires YOG in 2018 and all of a sudden it’s in the 2024 Games.

The big loser in all of this, of course, is AIBA, facing $16 million in debt, and on suspension until after Tokyo 2020. That organization appears more likely to go away than to stick around, but then question of what happens to boxing after next year is a real one.

The IOC also released its financial statements and it’s a very healthy organization, with $4.15 billion assets and reserves of $1.88 billion. It realized $2.20 billion in revenue and had a surplus of $185 million.