‘OLYMPIC AGENDA 2020’ TAKES SHAPE! BY PROF DR IAN BLACKSHAW

The Olympic Games have been described as ‘the greatest sporting show on earth’ and certainly they command the attention of athletes and sports fans alike. In fact, for athletes, they represent the pinnacle of their sporting aspirations and achievements.

As part of his ‘manifesto’ for election last year as the new President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach launched his so-called ‘Olympic Agenda 2020’ for the further development of the Olympic Games. This is a very ambitious programme, whose aims are: sustainability; credibility; and youth.

At an ‘Olympic Summit’ (the Summit), convened by the IOC President on 19 July, 2014 at the IOC Headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland and attended by the IOC Vice Presidents and Presidents of the major stakeholders of the Olympic Movement, a number of issues facing the Olympic Games were discussed.

One of these issues, currently under scrutiny and addressed by the Summit, is the bidding process to host the Olympics and especially the costs of organising and staging the Games. This is particularly having an adverse effect, at the present time, on the bidding process for the 2022 Winter Olympics, where there are now only two Candidate Cities in the running. These are Almaty (Kazakhstan) and Beijing (China). See my post on this subject dated 3 October, 2014       .

The Summit supported a new bidding strategy, which would afford more flexibility to Candidate Cities, placing more emphasis on the sustainability of the Games. There should be more focus, at the beginning of the bidding process, on the legacies of the Olympic Games and what they can bring to the bidding countries and their citizens – in particular, what the Games would contribute to their social, environmental and long-term development.

The establishment of an Olympic TV Channel was also discussed and supported by the participants at the Summit. Such a Channel, it is argued, would greatly increase the exposure of sports, as well as promoting ‘Olympic Values’ all the year round and on a world-wide basis. Again, this is an ambitious project and also a costly one! But, then, the IOC does not seem to be short of money! US$20 million is to be set aside, half for the fight against doping and the other half against match-fixing and related corruption.

In fact, when it comes to TV Rights, there is a symbiotic relationship between sport and TV broadcasting – they tend to feed off each other – and the sale of TV Rights generate mega sums for sport. Take the record US$7.75 billion NBC broadcast deal for the US Olympic TV rights until 2032 agreed with the IOC, as a recent example! Indeed, without such TV deals, many major sports events could not take place to the disappointment of athletes and sports fans alike.

These and other new initiatives and major projects were approved at the Summit, and will be voted on and are expected to be endorsed at the Extraordinary IOC Session, which is to be held in Monaco on 8 & 9 December, 2014.

Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw is an International Sports Lawyer, Academic and Author and may be contacted by e-mail at ‘ian.blackshaw@orange.fr’