POSTED: December 9th 2014

IOC Monaco: Swift approval for Olympic reforms is a boost for Thomas Bach

The final day of the IOC session lead by IOC President Thomas Bach / IOC Ian Jones
The final day of the IOC session lead by IOC President Thomas Bach / IOC Ian Jones

JOHN GOODBODY / Sports Features Communications

(SFC) Dr. Thomas Bach must be very content and satisfied today. In the first real political test of his presidency of the International Olympic Committee he had no difficulty whatsoever in getting what seemed like unanimous approval for the 40 proposals in Olympic Agenda 2020, all of which he had championed as being beneficial to the future of the Movement.

As Dr. Bach himself said after the vote at the 137th IOC Session in Monte Carlo: ”The speed at which Olympic Agenda 2020 was approved showed the great support and determination of the members to make it happen.  It was a very, very positive surprise. But it followed over a year of constructive discussions. Some of the recommendations were not easy for certain members to swallow.

“Some may have hoped for no recommendation or a different recommendation on a specific issue. So it was encouraging that regardless of their individual interests or position, they were determined to make Olympic Agenda 2020 a success.”

Clearly Dr. Bach felt that Olympic Agenda 2020 was a test of how he saw the future of the Movement, describing it as “like a jigsaw puzzle. Now that you have approved all 40 recommendations you can see the whole picture. It is a picture of progress. It is a picture that ensures the uniqueness of the Olympic Games. It is a picture that promotes the Olympic values. And ii is a picture that strengthens sport in society.”

The debate and voting were scheduled to last two days but such was the support –there were only 83 interventions in total—that the process was concluded on the first day. Each recommendation, voted on individually, received the full backing of the 96 IOC members in the hall. There were no votes against and no abstentions, although on occasions, it seemed as if not all the members voted on every occasion. Still, at the end of the day’s business, the members gave their unanimous support for the whole set of recommendations in an en bloc ballot.

The key proposals included: setting up an Olympic television channel, which will screen action from Olympic sports between the Games themselves so increasing their publicity; allowing cities hosting the Games to stage some events outside the city, even possibly in an adjacent country, so reducing costs; and the possibility of new sports being added to the Games provided that the total numbers of competitors at the Summer Games did not be more than 10,500 and the number of events exceed 310.

It is this last proposal that is likely to be the most fraught because each international federation will fight to maintain its number of events. Dick Pound, long-standing IOC member from Canada and a man never afraid to give a strong opinion, immediately suggested two events that could be dropped were synchronised swimming and the triple jump. There will be some months if not years of battles ahead.

As a contrast, the recommendation to include non-discrimination on sexual orientation in the 6th Fundamental Principal of Olympism can be enacted immediately. This arose because of homophobic attitudes in Russia, host of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.

As it is, Dr. Bach and the IOC staff will now return to the IOC head-quarters in Lausanne to begin additional work on costing various proposals as well preliminary discussion with host cities and the international federations.

Dr. Bach clearly believes that passing Olympic Agenda 2020 is positive for the Movement, saying: ”We are getting the Movement closer to the youth and the people and are really fostering our relations with society at large.”

** JOHN GOODBODY covered the 2012 Olympics for The Sunday Times, his 12th successive Summer Games and is the author of the audio book A History of the Olympics, read by Barry Davies, the BBC commentator. He was Sports News Correspondent of The Times 1986-2007, for whom he received journalistic awards in all three decades on the paper, including Sports Reporter of The Year in 2001.  

Keywords · IOC · Olympics · John Goodbody · Monaco

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