POSTED: April 10th 2013

NEIL WILSON: What exactly is in an evaluation report for IOC members?

THE NEIL WILSON COLUMN / An exclusive, authoritative series from Sports Features Communications

(SFC) The members of the IOC’s 2020 Evaluation Commission have touched down finally back at their homes, their frequent flier programmes hugely enhanced by flights to Tokyo, Madrid and Istanbul.

If their chairman Sir Craig Reedie is to be taken at his word there was nothing to choose between the three candidate cities. Istanbul, he said on his departure,  is an “extraordinary city” which  left an “excellent impression”. Madrid “greatly impressed” and Tokyo is an “extraordinary city” which was “very impressive”.

So no clues there to the summaries of the likely 100-page report which will be delivered to IOC members’ homes in July but if it is true to the ideal envisaged by the Olympic Games Study Commission report chaired by Richard Pound in 2003, it should not have “bland generalisations or refer only vaguely to certain challenges”.

When it comes to the crunch, each cannot be uniquely extraordinary or impressive. It is a competition. One must be better than the other two, or how else are the IOC members, denied their own visits, helped to make their choice in September. “Both the strong and weak points of each candidate must be clearly identified,” said Pound’s report.

So no sitting on the fence, as Reedie was doing diplomatically when he was still enjoying the hospitality of the present three candidates.  What IOC members need when they vote is a thorough fact-check on the claims in each candidate’s Bid Book.

A forensic examination of their financial claims for one. Beijing and London and now Sochi vastly exceeded the budgets promised by their Bid Books without it being picked up by the EC’s reports of the time.
How each member comes to his judgement ultimately is for them. It is unlikely all will read the complete report but more likely speed-read the summaries.  Some may not let any of it colour their judgement.

Chicago was “greatly praised” by the 2016 report, said its bid committee, but marshalled hardly any votes. Paris was red-hot favourite for 2012 after publication of the report – odds-on even with London bookmakers - but lost to London.

Some IOC members may even dismiss the commission’s findings summarily from personal piqué, reminded by their publication that since 1999 the IOC has not trusted them to visit the candidate cities themselves to do their own research.

However they react to the report’s summaries, we can be certain that they will not be decisive.  As Sebastian Coe said when London was bidding: “A good Evaluation Report is not enough to get you across the line but you can build on it.”

NEIL WILSON reported his first Olympic Games in Munich in 1972. He has since covered another nine summer and nine winter Olympics for various newspapers, including The Independent and the Daily Mail with whom he has worked for the last 19 years as Athletics and Olympic correspondent. He was Britain's Sports Journalist of the Year in 1984 and is the author of seven books.

Keywords · Summer Games · Olympic Bidding · 2020 Olympics

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