LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Breaking from the tradition of awarding the Olympics only to a single host city, the IOC is opening the door to possible wider bids — including bids from an entire country, joint bids from more than one city and even the possibility of events held in more than one country.
The possibility of new types of bids was among the 40 recommendations released Tuesday as part of International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach’s reform agenda, his drive to make the bidding process and the games themselves more attractive and less costly.
“We want to create more diversity in the candidatures,” Bach told a small group of reporters at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution.”
Bach’s proposals also include scrapping the current limit of 28 sports for the Summer Games to allow for new events to come in while maintaining a limit of 10,500 athletes and 310 medal events. For the Winter Games, the limit is 2,900 athletes and 100 medal events.
The proposals would allow host cities to propose the inclusion of one or more events for their games — a move which would clear the way for baseball and softball to be included in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Both sports were dropped from the Olympics after the 2008 Beijing Games, but are highly popular in Japan.
The package also includes measures for revamping the bid process to make it more of a partnership with candidates, creating an Olympic television channel, and including language on non-discrimination on sexual orientation in the Olympic Charter and host city contract.
The proposals also call for the appointment of an IOC “compliance officer” on ethics matters and a slight tweak to the 70-year age limit for IOC members. A member’s term could be extended to the age of 74 if approved by the IOC, with no more than five cases at a time.
The reforms, called “Olympic Agenda 2020,” will be put to a vote by the full IOC at a special session in Monaco on Dec. 8-9. Barring any surprise, most or all the recommendations are expected to be passed.
“These 40 recommendations are like a jigsaw puzzle,” Bach said at the Olympic Museum. “The full picture is an IOC that safeguards the uniqueness of the Olympic Games and strengthens sport in society.”
Under the proposals, the IOC will allow “the organization of entire sports and disciplines outside the host city or, in exceptional cases, outside the host country notably for reasons of geography and sustainability.”
That would be a first for the Summer Games. The IOC rules already allow for events to be held in a bordering country for the Winter Games.
“For Winter Games, if two countries are sharing a mountain, why not share a bid?” Bach said. “If you also have a city or region that can provide 95 percent of the facilities and 5 percent is missing, why not to open the door for them?”
In the Summer Olympics, some events — such as sailing and many of the preliminary-round football matches — are already held outside host cities. But Bach said the IOC is now ready to open the chance for country-wide and joint bids.
“In the Summer Games, it’s more about small or neighboring countries where you have distances which are manageable and feasible,” he said. “It also could be in one country. We want to have more diversity, to give smaller countries the opportunity to organize games.”
There has been a precedent for holding events outside the host country. Because of quarantine laws in Australia, the equestrian competition for the 1952 Melbourne Olympics was held in Stockholm.
Bach stressed, however, that the principle remains that there should be a “main organizing city” with an athletes village that serves as the center of the Olympic experience.
“We want to preserve the Olympic spirit,” he said. “To have the central Olympic Village and to have the athletes together, this is the core to our philosophy. We do not want to see this destroyed. We want the games with the unity of time, place and action which is part of the uniqueness of the Olympic Games.”