POSTED: April 24th 2014

NEIL WILSON: The price is no longer right to bid

Monaco will be the place for decisions about the Olympic Movement in December at the session dedicated to looking towards the future
Monaco will be the place for decisions about the Olympic Movement in December at the session dedicated to looking towards the future

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

(SFC) The number of cities prepared to make an investment in bidding for a summer Olympic Games – and the far greater potential investment in hosting one - have fallen with each Games since 2000. Signs are that it will fall again when the deadline passes for bids for 2024.

For the 2004 Games there were 11 cities submitting bids. It fell by one for 2008 and another one for 2012. The number was down to seven for 2016 and six for 2020.

Six months remain before the IOC’s deadline for 2024 bids but already Mexico City, Toronto, Kazan and St Petersburg have all put forward financial reasons for not pursuing their initial interest. 

The United States Olympic Committee is still considering  its consultation with cities interested in bidding but has said it may be months from deciding whether to put any forward.

So has the fizz gone out of the Olympic pop?  The interest of two major capital cities says it is not so. Paris wants to celebrate the centenary of its last Games, the famous Chariots of Fire Games of 1924, and Rome will bid against them if it can get Government backing for the city’s plans.

Rome may feel it is owed for its defeat by Athens for the 2004 Games. Many at the IOC may feel the same, conscious of the grief it was given by the prevarication of the Greeks after they won.

Paris blew it big-time in its 2012 bid, cruising on its expectations as front-runner and missing out with a lack-lustre final push in Singapore. They have the infrastructure, and arenas that need only refurbishment.

After a summer Games in South America and another in Asia, a North American or European host would be in order, and would certainly by favoured by the IOC’s marketing and television executives. Rome v. Paris v. Los Angeles would be a top-of-the-bill contest, with IOC rules probably changed in time for members to start visiting again.

 The decline in the number of cities prepared to put themselves forward is understandable in the world’s present financial situation. The lavish spending of Beijing and the mess that Athens and Rio have made of their preparations has not helped persuade politicians to dig deep in over-stretched coffers.

The price of a bid though is a hurdle too high for more. Put at $100 million by some, it is hard to justify when libraries, hospital, police and social care are having their budgets trimmed.

Perhaps president Thomas Bach’s grand re-design of Olympic rules later this year should have as one of its prime objectives the capping of the price of a bid.

 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 · Neil Wilson · IOC · Thomas Bach · Olympic bidding · Olympics

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