POSTED: September 6th 2009

2016 Olympic host decision rests now on emotional element

Four for Copenhagen . . . / lake images
Four for Copenhagen . . . / lake images

LAURA WALDEN / Sports Features Communications

TAMPA: As the bidding process to host the 2016 Olympic Games move into its final four weeks, the voting criteria take on a different balance.
This past week's publication of the evaluation report, has made IOC members fully aware of the risks and the challenges facing each bid.

All four cities - Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo - are well capable of hosting the Games but the voting process has become subjective rather than technical so each bid team must go into lobbying overdrive to sell the heart and soul of their projects - and, crucially, to contrust potential second and third round alliances through targeted networking.

The pressure mounts as the clock ticks down. Olympic bidding is the biggest game of roulette on the planet and the hardest from which to grab the golden ring. Estimating members' true voting intentions is an unpredictable science.

The majority of the IOC members reading the evaluation report have read a great many in the past and will remember Madrid and Rio have been on the front line before. Rio bid in 2004 and then again in 2012, as did Madrid. Many will compare the latest upgrades and refinements and how these two cities have confronted the challenges they faced in their previous bids.

2012 Evaluation Report findings
In the concluding 2012 round Madrid competed against Moscow, London, Paris and New York and that IOC evaluation report makes fascinating reading.

IOC opinion polls in 2005 found Madrid scoring the highest domestic national support (74%) followed by Moscow (53%), London (48%), Paris (44%) and New York (32%). London's midtable ranking means an average of around 50% could be considered acceptable in the minds of the IOC voters.

Fourth-round majority

Entering the closing stages of the bid process Paris was widely seen as favorite but at the end of the day London won the majority on the fourth round of votes with 54 from a possible 104. Moscow was the first to leave the race with 15 votes in the first round, then in the second round Madrid gained the most of the potential Moscow votes. On the second round New York fell out with a mere 16 votes.

In the third round Madrid fell out with 31 votes and London was the one who gained the most of the New York overflow votes. Final round London beat Paris by a slim margin of four votes. It was the only time London led the round-by-round voting.

The relevant evaluation report, published one month before the vote on July 6, 2005, in Singapore, was not as scrutinizing as the 2016 edition. This shows that the IOC has taken a different approach to the way it vets its potential host cities. Given the worldwide recession and budget issues which ensued after London's success this reveals sensible planning.

The IOC is focusing the microscope more intensely to protect its brand and financial future and cast a more astute eye at where the world may be seven years down the road.

Eye on the economy

The fact too that bidding for broadcast rights for these Games have been shelved until a decision has been made and the world economy has - hopefully - begun to pick up also supports such an evolutionary approach.

No city comes to the bidding table with everything in place to host the largest event on the planet so a realistic assessment of the checks and balances is essential to make the happy winning bid team aware of what must be achieved in the seven years time it has to bring the project to fruition.
At the moment, 27 days from the election, the mood may have swung temporarily in line with immediate reaction to the report but the scenario will change repeatedly. After everyone lands in Copenhagen on October 1, on the eve of the vote, assessments will probably change by the minute.
Olympic bidding is exciting. At least this time the IOC is holding the vote early on and not prolonging the lobby process by delaying the decision until several days into the session. Stay tuned for the countdown to the 2016 adventure.

2012 voting in Singapore, 2005

Rounds        1   2   3   4
London      22  27 39 54
Paris          21  25 33 50
Madrid      20  32  31  -
New York 19  16    -   -
Moscow    15    -     -   -

Keywords · IOC · International Olympic Committee · voting · Chicago · Madrid · Rio de Janeiro · Tokyo · Singapore · evaluation report

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Laura Walden ()

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