At a press conference following the EB meetings, IOC President Thomas Bach compared the anticipation ahead of the vote to an athlete finishing training in preparation for an actual competition.
“I feel like an athlete before a final”, said President Bach, who initiated discussions on Olympic Agenda 2020 in mid-2013. “There has been training and preparation for a year, and like an athlete longs for the start of the competition, I look forward to the start of the Session. I feel like the moment has come for the real thing to happen. It is not training anymore, it is decision time.”
Olympic Agenda 2020 preparations for the 127th IOC Session were a focus of the Executive Board meetings. The President said the EB was encouraged by the support received by all Olympic Movement stakeholders.
“Representatives from the Summer and Winter International Federations confirmed their support, as did the Chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission. Approval was also expressed by the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC). All, together, are supportive with regard to Olympic Agenda 2020. This makes the Executive Board confident that the Session will approve Olympic Agenda 2020.”
President Bach then outlined the voting procedure for the Session: “The chairs of the 14 Working Groups will introduce the topics and recommendations of their respective groups. The recommendations of each Working Group will then be debated. The vote will be one by one – each recommendation will be voted on individually. If one recommendation requires a change to the Olympic Charter, we would vote again to make the relevant change.”
The EB also had discussions on the Olympic Games in Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 and the Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang 2018. “With regard to Rio, we were happy to learn that with 20 months to go, 70 per cent of the Brazilian population think the Games will be a success”, said President Bach. “There is good support for the Games. There is good progress in the construction of venues and preparations, and their engagement policies were very well approved.
“As for PyeongChang and Tokyo, we had discussions with both organising committees about following up on potential opportunities with which Olympic Agenda 2020 would provide them. If changes are approved by the Session, in particular more flexibility, we would start implementing right after the Session. We will have project reviews in January and February to follow up on this in both cities to see what Olympic Agenda 2020 can do for the organisation of their Games.”
Specifically on potential changes to the Olympic programme, the IOC President said: “It will be the responsibility of a host city to propose the inclusion of one or several new events. If we are talking about an event that belongs to a sport which is already on the Olympic programme, the decision on the inclusion will be made by the IOC Executive Board. If the event belongs to a sport that is not featured in the programme, then the decision will fall under the remit of the Session. The purpose of the exercise is to allow host cities to reflect even more on their sports culture. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. The idea is to give more flexibility to cities and allow more creativity.
On potential venue changes, he added: “We are discussing with the respective organising committees on what Olympic Agenda 2020 means for them. Venue changes will of course be discussed especially if they lead to more sustainability and less expense.”
With regard to the 2024 bidding process, the President said: “Yes, the timeline for 2024 has been approved by the IOC Executive Board. The invitation phase that we want to introduce into the process will be discussed as part of Olympic Agenda 2020 during the Session and, if approved, this invitation phase will precede the two other phases approved yesterday.”
Finally, when asked about the recent doping allegations in Russia, Bach replied: “These are serious allegations which are currently in the hands of the IAAF Ethics Commission. Given the seriousness of the allegations it is the responsibility of the IOC to respect the rules of law and the right of defence so we will not interfere nor comment on an ongoing procedure. We have asked to be informed of all the results that might affect people under the remit of the IOC and here I am not only talking about the athletes but also their entourage.”