POSTED: September 18th 2009

Rogge: 2016 vote may rest on two voters changing their minds

Jacques Rogge: fundamental qualities matter most
Jacques Rogge: fundamental qualities matter most

KEIR RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications

LONDON: The crucial importance, in the Olympic 2016 race, to the four cities of lobbying as energetically as possible right up until the last possible moment has been underlined by Jacques Rogge.

The president of the International Olympic Committee was speaking as the contest between Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo headed towards its showdown in Copenhagen on October 2. That is when the 106 members must vote – and the tightest race for years could be decided by just a couple of votes.

Rogge said: “I can make a bet that it's probably going to be a couple of votes, two, three, four. Something like four, five votes is only the situation of a change of mind of two or three persons. You see how close it is. You can convince two people more and you might win."

He did not believe that the recent controversies centred on the United States Olympic Committee would affect Chicago’s winning potential.

The imbalance in Olympic revenues between the USOC and other national Olympic committees has been a running sore elsewhere. Irritation was then exacerbated by the USOC’s announcement of plans to launch a Olympic TV channel. This was later put on hold after discussions between the USOC and IOC about the barely-explored legal and financial implications.

'Out of the discussion'

Reviewing the current state of relations between the two bodies, Rogge said: “I think [the USOC issues] will have no negative effect whatsoever. These two things are out of the discussion now, so I don't except a negative aspect."

One of the unknown factors in swaying votes is the value of the presence – or absence – of major political figures from the host city nations. The then UK Prime Minister Tony Blair was credited with a decisive persuasive role in London’s 2012 success as was Russia’s Vladimir Putin on behalf of Sochi for the 2014 Winter Games.

Spain’s King Juan Carlos and Brazil’s President Lula are expected to be in Copenhagen as well as, possibly, Japan’s new Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. However, Chicago’s delegation will be led by First Lady Michelle Obama and not by President Obama himself – who had excused him to Rogge in a telephone conversation.

Rogge said: “He explained to me the current political situation in Washington did not allow him to participate in the bid in Copenhagen. He said with what I would say with a sense of humour that the First Lady was the best stand-in that he could ever imagine for himself. But he did not speak about eventually coming to Copenhagen.”

'Behind the bid'

Clearly President Obama left no doubt about his support for Chicago. “He expressed in a very clear way his very strong support for Chicago,” said Rogge, “and you know how charismatic he is when he wants to express the love for his city. He was very clear to say he's totally behind the bid and will remain behind the organization should Chicago get the games.”

Rogge reiterated his belief that the vote would be decided on the IOC members’ perception of the strength of the four bids and not by side issues.

He added: “The vast majority of members will vote on the fundamentals. Is it a good bid? Do we trust the people in charge? Is transport OK? Are the venues OK? These are the most important considerations. It is the confidence you have in the people who have made the bid and will organise the Games."

Keywords · Rogge · 2016 Olympic Games · Copenhagen · Chicago · Madrid · Rio de Janeiro · Tokyo · Obama · King Juan Carlos · President Lula · Yukio Hatoyama

For more information contact:
Laura Walden ()

All original materials contained in this section are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Sports Features Communications, Inc the owner of that content. It is prohibited to alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.