Olympic Games changes Q+A: How big are the changes and what difference will they make?

Future Olympics may be less costly to host and more inclusive

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The Independent Online

It is being billed as the biggest shake-up of the Olympic Games for 15 years. The 40-point “Olympic Agenda 2020” of International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach will bring major changes if it is voted through at the IOC’s annual meeting in Monaco, which began on Monday and concludes on Tuesday. In that time Bach has to convince more than 100 members of his plans. So we answer some key questions.

Q | How big are the changes?

A | 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.

Q | How will they affect the Games?

A | Future Olympics could be unrecognisable in the sense that it may mean that a solitary city no longer hosts the Games. For example, a nation could spread the Games over more than one city with a provision for them to be cross-nation Games in the future, effectively meaning more than one nation acting as host, much like the World Cup.

Q | What is the thinking behind it?

A | 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 to battle it out. It also comes in the wake of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, whose spend was a record $51bn.  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.

Q | Will there be any sporting changes?

A | The IOC has now abolished the cap of 28 sports, paving the way for others to be introduced. 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 event at their Games. It also gives hope for sports like squash that have been continually pushing fora 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 at a Games, and swimming will have to lose certain disciplines. There are rumours athletics, for example, could lose the triple jump and race walking.

Q | What other changes are afoot?

A | 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.

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