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New IOC head Bach wants more public involvement in bidding

The Canadian Press

9/11/2013 1:17:51 PM

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- Newly elected IOC President Thomas Bach made it clear Wednesday that he wants to change the bidding process for future Olympics and to make sustainable development a key priority.

In what could be seen as a reference to discontent in Brazil at the spiraling cost of two major sporting competitions -- the 2016 Olympics and the 2014 World Cup -- Bach said he wants the populations of potential host cities to "be part of the candidature at a very early stage" to ensure "more participation and support."

Bach added that he believes the current bidding system asks for "too much, too early" and leads to predictability, rather than creativity.

"We approach potential candidate cities like you would do in business, with a tender for a franchise. All the bid books are written by the same people around the world -- you get the same answers," he said.

"I would like to try and change that mentality a little bit, to think about bidding more as an invitation. I want to invite potential candidates to study how Olympic Games would fit into their long-term city and regional and country development... (and) could contribute to sustainable development in their environment."

On Saturday, Tokyo was selected to host the 2020 Summer Olympics, fending off rival bids from Istanbul and Madrid. The Spanish capital was subject to criticism of misguided priorities, as the country grapples with a double dip recession and 27 per cent unemployment.

The Japanese government faced similar concerns over the idea that it should focus on the Fukushima nuclear crisis, rather than spending billions of dollars on the Olympics.

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, are expected to run up a budget of more than $50 billion -- the most expensive Games to date.

Sebastian Coe, who led London's 2012 Olympiad, spoke to AP about the challenges of hosting for any city. His main advice for Tokyo was to "get out of the blocks very quickly" in realizing its plans for 2020, and "be prepared to work harder than you've ever worked in your life on any single project."