MARIA PIA BELTRAN / AIPS* in LAUSANNE: Thomas Bach is heading for the World Cup in Brazil. Not that the president of the International Olympic Committee can rescue Brazil’s football team but to catch up on progress in the country’s next major sports staging, the Rio 2016 summer Games.
Bach sketched out his schedule after an IOC executive board Meeting in Lausanne.
He said: “I leave for Rio de Janeiro tomorrow to meet the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee and staff, and the President of Brazil, Mrs Dilma Rousseff, to discuss the progress made in these past weeks.
“We are very confident about the positive development of preparations and I can say that the FIFA World Cup is encouraging us in the conviction that we will have a fantastic Games in Rio.”
Bach watched Brazil’s 7-1 defeat by his home country, Germany, on television together board members and Carlos Nuzman, the Rio 2016 organizing director.
He did expect Brazil’s defeat to affect change the country’s expectations of the Games, saying: “Brazilians are famous for being optimistic and enthusiastic concerning sport.
“There is always a small period of mourning after such a loss, but I am sure that the country will go back to being proud of hosting such a successful World Cup – just as we did in Germany for the 2006 World Cup when the team lost in the semi-final with a dramatic last minute defeat.
“This World Cup is really supporting the organisation of the Olympic Games, there is no doubt about that.”
Reviewing the board meeting, Bach expressed his satisfaction at the decision to convert all three ‘applicants’ to host the 2022 Winter Olympics into ‘candidates’.
He said: “With these three strong candidates we are sure that there will be good Games in 2022.”
However he acknowledged a disconnect between the movement and public opinion when he stressed the need for greater clarity over bidding and hosting procedures.
Several cities had withdrawn from the process because of residents’ concern over costs.
Bach said: “We have to explain things better. What these cities and future applicants need is a better clarification of our system for bidding and organisations.
“We have to show that it is a very transparent procedure and that it works well. We need to explain the logic of the two different budgets better and talk about it more.
“This is an easy task when you speak to a business community but common people do not understand this so matter-of-factly: I would say that it’s like counting the costs of a house warming party into the cost of building a house.”
Bach, on his election a year ago, launched the Agenda 2020 debate with proposals and suggestions being assessed before an IOC Extraordinary Session [Congress] in December in Monte Carlo.
The 14 IOC working groups are finalizing their assessments and there will be an Olympic Summit in 10 days, on July, 19. The IOC Commissions are meeting in September to discuss the different proposal that have come out from the different stakeholders.
Bach said: “The Executive Board will have another meeting in October in a kind of brainstorming and relaxed environment outside Lausanne, which will allow us to concentrate on the Olympic Agenda 2020 and prepare the recommendation for the Extraordinary IOC Session in Monte Carlo.
“We have received a lot of input and enthusiasm from all the stakeholders who are pushing us in a very constructive way, I think the vote in December will reflect this momentum of change in the IOC.”
** AIPS is the international sports journalists’ association with 10,000 members worldwide. More information: www.AIPSmedia.com
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