Guest visit and enjoy the garden of the Olympic house, the new International Olympic Committee (IOC) headquarters, after the inauguration ceremony in Lausanne, on June 23, 2019. (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI / POOL / AFP)FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images
The International Olympic Committee outlined plans to overhaul the bidding process for future Games, stating cities interested in hosting the Games should hold referendums before submitting official tenders to avoid having to withdraw their candidacy at a later date.The IOC has seen many cities in recent years drop out of bidding for the Olympics in mid-race, scared off by the size or cost of the Games or due to strong opposition from local populations.For the 2026 Winter Olympics, which this week was awarded to Milan and Cortina D’Ampezzo in Italy, four cities pulled out.Only the winners and Stockholm were left in the race for potential host cities after Switzerland’s Sion, Japan’s Sapporo, Austria’s Graz and 1988 host Calgary pulled out.It was a similar situation for the 2022 and 2024 Games. Local referendums have also killed off many bids or planned candidacies, including in Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Canada, among others.Jason Ribeiro with the pro-Olympics bid group Yes Calgary 2026 welcomes the IOC’s updated policies but is skeptical it would have made a difference in Calgary’s bid.“I’m pleased to see they’re responding to some of the challenges,” he said.“From my end, change is welcome but I don’t think it would have proven overly advantageous for Calgary.“Earlier and heightened engagement are key. … The IOC did visit (Calgary) quite frequently and they should do more of that regardless.”Ribeiro added the adjustments allowing for flexibility and additional time are important additions that will help would-be host cities preparing bids.“We need to continue to evolve,” IOC member John Coates, head of the working group, told the session.These reforms include the creation of future host commissions that will look at possible hosts well before any official candidacy is launched.Cities will also need to get any referendums on the Games out of the way before submitting an official bid so there are no dropouts during the process.The seven-year period between awarding the Games and hosting the Olympics was also scrapped, with the IOC eager to be flexible to fit the timeline to the capabilities of each city.“There must be responsible and flexible timing as to when elections take place,” Coates said. “So they (cities) can align a potential Olympic candidacy with the growth and development in a particular region.”The Games have stopped being an attractive prospect for many cities with ballooning multibillion-dollar budgets putting a strain on countries’ economies, as was the case with the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics with the country in recession.The IOC has already taken steps to reduce the cost of both bidding and staging the Games, while also increasing its contribution to host cities once they are awarded the Games.That has not stopped the drain of cities and led in 2017 to an unprecedented double awarding for the 2024 summer Olympics (Paris) and the 2028 Games (Los Angeles), after Budapest, Boston and Hamburg scrapped their 2024 Games bids.