IOC Announces Big Changes to Olympics Bidding Process

In an effort to limit the fallout of Rio and Sochi, a new set of rules is afoot

Olympic Bidding Rules
The IOC is instituting a number of new rules for prospective nation bidders. (XIN LI/ Getty)
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Future hosts of the Olympic Games might win their bids against … no one.

Countries hoping to land the Olympics will now need to have their intentions approved by taxpayers via referendum prior to formally submitting their bid, the International Olympic Committee announced on Wednesday. There will also be a newly formed Olympic panel that recommends only nations that meet the criteria, which could lead to an election involving only one or two nominees, the Associated Press reported.

“We cannot, I suggest, continue to be damaged as we have in the past,” IOC member John Coates said, referring to recent Olympic bids that have been very publicly shouted down by taxpayers.

Any country looking to host a game must also use arenas that are already built or can be constructed on a budget for temporary use, rather than building exorbitantly expensive new structures that often fall into disrepair, as was the case inn both Sochi and Rio. The IOC doesn’t necessarily expect no new stadiums to be built for future Olympics — it just wants to dissuade countries from defaulting to a mindset of newness.

Moving forward, countries will also be allowed to include multiple cities in their bids, a factor that helped Italy win the rights to the 2026 Winter Games. Rules around the election timetable will change, too, with the panel selecting cities on a flexible, rolling basis. Previously, hosts were voted on seven years ahead of each Games.

“It can come to a point where there is only one candidate being proposed,” IOC President Thomas Bach said at a press conference. Given the economic fallout that some Olympics have occasioned in recent decades, let’s hope they can even find that many.

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