October 23, 2014 / 3:35 PM / 5 years ago

Olympics-IOC hopes 40-point plan will overhaul Games bids

BERLIN, Oct 23 (Reuters) - The IOC has drawn up 40 recommendations aimed at making the Games more attractive to bidders, sports and fans and will put them to a vote in December, president Thomas Bach said on Thursday.

As part of its Olympic Agenda 2020, the 40 points, which will be sent to all International Olympic Committee (IOC) members for the end-of-year session in Monaco, include some aimed at making bidding for the Games cheaper and more adaptable to the needs of the cities rather than IOC pre-requisites.

Four cities pulled out of the 2022 Winter Games bidding process, with Oslo the latest withdrawal, citing financial concerns or lack of support.

Kazakhstan’s Almaty and Beijing are the only two contenders left in the 2022 race, dealing a blow to the process of hosting the world’s biggest winter sports competition.

Bach said the new plans should make the process look more like “an invitation” for cities rather than a straightforward tender.

The proposed changes should also make it easier to bring new sports into the Games, yield the launch of an Olympic broadcast venture and alter the length of IOC membership.

Bach, a former Olympic fencing champion who has made the overhaul a top priority since being elected in September 2013, said all the recommendations would be made public in November.

“We want these to be approved by all the members of the IOC and for them to be a real strategy supported by hopefully a good majority,” he said in a teleconference.

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Among the changes are making the Olympic programme more flexible with sports not needing a seven-year waiting period to be in the Games once approved.

“We want more flexibility for the programme but at the same time we want to address the issue of sustainability. That means that this flexibility can only happen within a certain limitation,” said Bach.

The president said in the past he saw no problem adding more than the existing 28 sports as long as the number of 10,500 athletes remained the same.

The Tokyo 2020 Games are the first that will be seen to benefit from this, with baseball and softball candidates for inclusion despite being off the programme after the Beijing 2008 Games.

While stopping short of saying that the two sports are all but assured a spot at the Games in Japan, a country where they are both hugely popular, Bach said that should the changes be approved they could be applied to cities that have already signed contracts with the IOC.

“If there’s agreement with organisers and the international federations then you can always make changes,” he added when asked if new sports could be introduced at Tokyo.

“The IOC will not impose anything on any organising committee that has not been agreed upon. If the respective recommendations would be approved by the session then we would be flexible and ready to discuss.”

The IOC is also set to increase the 70-year age limit for IOC members, Bach hinted, without giving more detail.

“With regard to age limit there has been a working group concerning the structure of the IOC and membership of the IOC and you can expect there will be recommendations coming from this working group,” he said.

Bach, however, ruled out the reintroduction of visits to bid cities by IOC members who are not part of the evaluation commission, a process banned after the Salt Lake City bribery scandal in the late 1990s.

“I hope executive board members and all the IOC members will forgive me if I say here already that there will be no recommendation for a change in this regard,” he explained. (Editing by Tony Jimenez)

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