POSTED: August 15th 2017

NEIL WILSON: The IOC is off on its summer holiday

© Westin
© Westin

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

(SFC) How do you fancy a week's holiday to Peru next month, first-class travel, five star hotel, free meals and returning home with something north of $3,000 in your pocket?

That is the tempting offer for members of the International Olympic Committee. Their annual shindig they call a Session happens in Lima between September 13 and 17.

It is a working holiday, of course. They are expected to turn up each morning and afternoon in the conference hall of their Westin Hotel to have their say on all matters Olympic.

It had a point until this month.  The one major decision IOC members get to take every two years on where the summer or winter Games would be held seven years hence was the main item on the agenda.

Now it is not. The vote they get to cast will be on a fait accompli, a done deal. Paris or Los Angeles to host the 2024 summer Games?

We already know that it will be Paris, and that Los Angeles will host the 2028 version. Behind closed doors the IOC's cabinet, its Executive Board, decided it for themselves, and the two cities then stitched up an agreement.  So who needs IOC members?

 And that surely is the point at issue in Lima. Around 95 of them, plus nine to be voted in as new members, will be flown to Lima first class, paid $450 for each of their days of travelling and working, provided with a limo service while there and free meals.

The IOC and the local organisers pick up the tab which will run to millions of dollars, and for what? A lot of talking about nothing of any great significance.

Those matters are handled by the president Thomas Bach - annual salary $251,000 set in 2015 plus annual inflation - and his executive board, each of whom will be paid $900 a day while in Lima. And since they are there for an extra two days including travel days they come home with more than $8,000 in untaxed expenses.

Individual members of the IOC are expected to represent the Olympic Movement in their own country as a primary function. Others represent sports federations and some national Olympic committees. All are volunteers and nobody should begrudge them something for their efforts.

The only question: for what purpose do they continue to exist when the only important decision in their hands has been taken away from them?

They might say they elect the president and the executive but it is a function exercised rarely. And recent experiences suggest that they vote like sheep, virtually unanimous on every call the President's men make of them.

So IOC members, know your place in Lima, don't ask any awkward questions about PyeongChang or Russia or WADA's independence and enjoy your holiday.

** 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.

****The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sports Features Communications.

Keywords · Olympics · Neil Wilson

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