SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Olympic Games could have less medals and athletes after International Olympic Committee (IOC) presidential candidate Ng Ser Miang said a review of the cost and size would be a priority if he won next month’s vote.
The 64-year-old Singaporean also told Reuters in an interview he would look into scaling back the price and procedures for cities bidding to host the Olympics, a two-year process that is now estimated to cost around $80-100 million.
“It is time for us to do a major review of the size, the cost, the scale and the complexity of the Games,” said Ng at his office on Monday.
”This will be one of the priorities for sure. Even on the bid itself, the process. Whether we can make it more efficient, less costly with more respect to the cities bidding as well as for the sports themselves.
“But at the same time when we talk about reducing the size of the Games there are more sports knocking on the door wanting to be part of it so I think there is going to be a fine balance and we have got to find the optimum solution.”
Ng said all aspects of the Games would be looked at and did not rule out increasing the number of sports from 26 but with less medals available in each.
He is up against Germany’s Thomas Bach, Richard Carrion of Puerto Rico, Wu Ching-kuo of Taiwan, Swiss Denis Oswald and Ukraine’s former Olympic pole vault champion Sergey Bubka in the September 10 vote in Argentina to replace outgoing Belgian Jacques Rogge.
The softly-spoken Singaporean, an IOC vice president and former international sailor, was non-committal about the areas he would like to slim down, adding he would discuss the issue with all members before making changes.
“There could be a review on the number of athletes, different disciplines, there could be a review of disciplines in the existing sports,” added Ng.
“There could be a more optimum allocation of scheduling of competitions. I believe there are some opportunities there for us to look at so we have to, definitely, consider some of these.”
The IOC session in Buenos Aires will also have a vote to decide whether Tokyo, Istanbul or Madrid will host the 2020 Games and which sport should be included in future Games with wrestling, squash and baseball/softball up for inclusion.
Ng said new sports should use the Youth Olympics as a test venue rather than employing expensive lobbying tactics.
“Youth Olympic Games have been a platform for innovation, for trying out new initiatives, like at the inaugural Games we have seen three-on-three basketball and mixed (gender) teams.” he explained.
The Chinese-born Ng was chairman of the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympics and the successful, if costly, running of that event propelled his bid to succeed Rogge who is standing down after completing a 12-year maximum term.
The father of three was keen to push the pledges aimed at encouraging young people in the Olympic family and wanted to create a “strong youth strategy”.
He also discussed the need for education on tackling doping and the major South East Asian problem of match-fixing and illegal betting.
“We have to be more strategic in allocating resources for this fight and put more resources in sports and NOCs (National Olympic Committees) where there are big problems,” said Ng.
The diminutive Ng, Singapore’s ambassador to Norway and Hungary, said he wanted to make the work of the IOC more fun for everybody and the organization “to have a president that was inclusive”.
He also said the organization had received written confirmation from Russian authorities that they will respect the provisions of the Olympic charter about discrimination after much furor over a new anti-gay law.
Editing by John O'Brien and Tony Jimenez