POSTED: June 18th 2014

NEIL WILSON: Let the IOC take command of Games preparations

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

 (SFC) Good news for the International Olympic Committee from Brazil -  the World Cup there  proves that the locals can get a mega-event off the ground and running in time for the starting gun.

The paint may still have been wet in places. One pitch even needed a coat of green paint on the eve of its first match to disguise the yellowing turf. And in one arena the corporate hospitality rooms were not finished to sponsors’ satisfaction.

All details. The wider picture showed that while Brazilians are slow starters they get there in the end. Just.

So Gilbert Felli, who will be the IOC’s man in Rio for the next two years, may find his role of jollying the locals along less stressful than he anticipated. If only the IOC had taken for itself the power and the position to do that from the day Rio was awarded the Games in 2009.

This week the 14 working groups made up of key stakeholders in the Olympic movement meet in Lausanne to discuss the thousands of submissions which will help guide President Thomas Bach’s Agenda 2020, his plan for the future.

One proposal from Norway suggests that future host cities adhere strictly to the Olympic Charter principles of human rights, gender equality and inclusion, a proposal that would have probably put Beijing and Sochi out of the running for the Games they hosted.

As pertinent after the stressful preparations to Athens and now Rio will be talk hopefully within the working group entitled Olympic Games Management about how to hold future hosts to strict timetables of preparation.

The promises made when bidding should be set in stone, not only on financing but the management of construction. And that would be best achieved by a full-time management group within the IOC itself headquartered in the host city from Day One with legally-binding powers under the host city agreement.

Felli is an experienced and competent administrator with political savvy but it is unfair to parachute him into a fire zone when time is running out. Better that he or somebody similarly qualified and powerful, leads from the start at the head of a professional team.

The host city should be forced to pass legislation giving this team full control, just as copyright of Olympic words and symbols has to be enacted as a clause in the host city agreement.

An in-house team of experts would loosen the grip of local politicians to prevaricate in petty local turf wars. It would give the IOC the power over its own Games’ preparations that it has in other areas.

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 · Rio 2016 · IOC · Olympics

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