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IOC to unveil major Olympic changes next week

MONACO: The International Olympic Committee will unveil plans to overhaul parts of the sporting extravaganza next week as they look to make the Games more attractive to fans and sponsors alike.

IOC President Thomas Bach will present 40 recommendations at the renovated Olympic Museum in Lausanne on Nov. 18 and while specific details of his proposals have yet to be revealed, they will affect the way cities campaign to land the Olympics and how sports will be included in the future.

The IOC session in Monaco next month will vote on each of the recommendations, part of Bach’s Agenda 2020, which could usher in the most significant changes to the Olympics in decades.

The biggest change concerns bidding for the Olympics, with the IOC wanting to make it cheaper and more adaptable to the needs of cities rather than current extensive IOC pre-requisites.

Four of six cities bidding for the 2022 Winter Olympics pulled out midway through the process citing financial concerns or lack of public support, leaving Beijing and Kazakhstan’s Almaty as the only candidates.

The withdrawals have dented the Games‘ reputation, seen by some cities more as an oversized economic burden and strain on a country’s resources than a financially lucrative prospect.

“With regard to the bidding procedure, the purpose of the recommendations is to turn the procedure into an invitation for discussion and partnership with the IOC rather than just an application for a tender,” Bach told reporters days ago.

The proposed changes will also make it easier for new sports to become part of the Games, which in turn can attract fresh fans, sponsors and higher broadcast revenues.

Sports currently need to wait seven years from their approval until their first appearance.

The first Games to benefit could be the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics with the Japanese pushing for the inclusion of baseball and softball, after they were taken off the program following the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

There is also a recommendation for the creation of an Olympic broadcast channel as the IOC looks to provide the Games experience year-round rather than just every four years.

Other changes could see the age limit for IOC members, who must step down at 70, raised, but there will be no lifting of IOC members’ travel ban to bid cities, a rule introduced after the 2002 Salt Lake City bribery scandal.

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