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Olympic Games shake up

ICC president Thomas Bach

It is being billed as the biggest shake-up of the Olympic Games for 15 years. On Tuesday, the 40-point ‘Olympic Agenda 2020′ of International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach was ratified at the International Olympic Committee’s annual meeting in Monaco, paving the way for widespread changes in one of the world’s  biggest sporting events.

How big are the changes?
They’re the biggest since the Salt Lake City scandal when members were accused of taking bribes from organisers of the 2002 Winter Olympics. These latest 40-point reforms are also an opportunity for Bach to make his mark as president.

How will they affect the Games?
Future Olympics could be unrecognisable in the sense that it may mean that a solitary city no longer hosts the Games. A nation could spread the events across the country. There would also be provision for the Games to be cross-nation, meaning more than one country acting as host, much like football’s European Championships, the Rugby World Cup or the forthcoming Cricket World Cup which is in New Zealand and Australia.

What is the thinking behind it?
Primarily, it is aimed at cutting the costs of acting as host and is, in part, a response to a number of prospective hosts withdrawing from the bidding for the 2022 Winter Olympics, leaving just Beijing and Almaty. It also comes in the wake of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, whose spend was a record $51 billion (R585bn).

The changes mean that bids will no longer be made in the same way, more via an invitation process – called an “assistance phase” – in which the IOC can answer any possible queries or concerns for those aiming to put forward a bid as host. Cities vying for the Games are also encouraged to use existing venues where possible to avoid white elephants in the aftermath.

Will there be any sporting changes?
The IOC has now abolished the cap of 28 sports, paving the way for others to be introduced, the body is keen to push forward sports such as skateboarding and surfing at the future Games. It also means Tokyo 2020, as hosts, can push for the reintroduction of baseball and softball – hosts are allowed to press for the inclusion of one or more events at their Games.

It also gives hope for sports like squash, that have been continually pushing for a role at the Olympics. However a cap has been placed on the number of events at 310 and athletes at 10 500, meaning established sports with a bigger remit, such as athletics, which contributes one fifth of the competitors, and swimming will have to lose certain disciplines. There are rumours athletics, for example, could lose the triple jump and race walking.

What other changes are afoot?
The IOC is pushing ahead with the launch of a digital channel that is expected to cost $600m over the next seven years and be run by Olympic Broadcasting Services in Madrid. The aim is to promote Olympic sports and engage with younger viewers. In a reaction to events in Russia, the IOC is to rid the movement of any discrimination of “race, colour, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion”. There is also a push for more mixed-gender events.

Story courtesy The Independent


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