Newly-elected IOC President keen on radically changing bid city mentality
PARIS - Agence France-Presse
Newly elected IOC President Thomas Bach arrives for the UEFA European Women's Volleyball Championship semifinal match Germany vs Belgium in Berlin, Germany on September 13, 2013. AFP photo
Newly-elected International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach will move into his new office in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Tuesday with little fanfare but with much to do.
The 59-year-old German -- who was elected in the second round of voting by fellow IOC members last Tuesday in Buenos Aires seeing off five rivals -- has finished the celebrations and now it will be business only.
He will be received by his predecessor Jacques Rogge, who will also brief him on ongoing issues and hand over pertinent files.
While Bach's immediate challenge will be to ensure a successful Winter Games in Sochi in 2014 -- his first official trip will be to Olympia in Greece to see the Olympic flame lit -- he has highlighted longer term goals for his initial eight-year tenure.
In his post election press conference he highlighted the fight against match-fixing and energising the young to go out and practice sports.
However, in a smaller more informal gathering with journalists the morning after he said he had another goal -- that of fundamentally changing the mindset of cities that bid for the Olympic Games.
"I want to see a new approach to the bidding process," he said.
"At the moment in our bid process we are asking too much, too early of the candidates.
"We approach bid cities like a tender for a business or for a franchise.
"This leads to a situation where bid books are written by the same people round the world.
"Honestly I can say that before I go into a Question and Answer session with the bid cities for no matter what Olympic Games I already know the answers, because I have heard them all before." Bach, the first Olympic gold medalist to become IOC president, said he wanted to see more involvement from locals.
"I would like to try and change this mentality," he said.
"I would invite the potential candidates to think about how the Olympic Games would fit into their city, their region and their country's development, their own sustainable development.
"This would allow them to have their own creativity in terms of ideas about their bid and this would lead to their population in the city/region being part of the bid at an early stage.
"You would get more bidders, more creativity and more participation from local people and therefore more popular support from the younger generation.
"It will not be easy to achieve this and there will have to be minimum standards. However, for me we are imposing too much too early." Bach, who won Olympic gold for West Germany in the fencing team foil event at the 1976 Games, also said with his new workload he would be cutting all his other commitments, including the presidency of the Arab-German Chamber of Commerce.
This particular role provoked Denis Oswald, one of his rivals for the IOC presidency, to launch an attack on him on the eve of the vote where he accused him of taking advantage of his position to further the interests of businesses he was linked to, especially with regard to Kuwait.
However, Bach was clear he will no longer fulfil this role -- indeed he wishes to retain only one such board membership for sentimental reasons.
"I would like to remain chairman of the supervisory board of the machine building company in Tauberbischofsheim (his home town in the Franconia region) as I have an emotional link and I feel a responsibility for the employees.
"This is why before even the election and in order to be transparent I asked the IOC Ethics Commission if it would be ok. They said no problem there is no conflict of interests.
"As far as I am aware the IOC is not in the business of wood processing."