Power Game: Thomas Bach’s Iron Grip on the Olympics


The enormity of the I.O.C.’s affect and the singular authority of its president are pretty latest phenomena. Other presidents ran the group at their private whim, as many contend Bach does at this time, however none had been pulling the strings of an establishment as mammoth because the modern model and none had been working in an area as difficult as the trendy sports activities panorama.

Until the late 1990s, the I.O.C. largely maintained a back-seat function within the operation of the Olympics, stepping apart after choosing a number metropolis to let native organizing committees execute the Games. That perspective modified after the 1996 Atlanta Games, which teetered so carefully to catastrophe — with transportation snags, technical glitches and safety breaches — that the I.O.C. decided it wanted a extra hands-on strategy to keep away from additional dysfunction.

In response, the I.O.C.’s workers at its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, has swelled from a pair dozen folks within the 1980s to about 100 folks within the ’90s to roughly 600 folks at this time. This development, in flip, has diminished the function of the I.O.C.’s membership, a gaggle of 102 sports activities officers from all over the world who as soon as dealt with most of the specialised duties now undertaken by seasoned professionals in Lausanne.

The most crippling latest blow to the membership’s energy got here when Bach took away its largest accountability: voting on host cities. The course of had historically been rife with bribery and corruption. More lately, although the I.O.C. has struggled to draw viable candidates amid issues of skyrocketing prices.

Bach tackled these points by merely altering the foundations. In 2017, he unceremoniously altered the outdated bidding course of, awarding internet hosting rights for 2 Games without delay. The 2024 Games got to Paris, whereas Los Angeles, additionally vying for these Games, was persuaded to signal on for 2028. Two years later, Bach scrapped the outdated bidding protocol altogether, shifting the method largely behind closed doorways, the place uncontroversial host cities (Brisbane, Australia, was lately revealed as the highest candidate for the 2032 Summer Games) could possibly be picked regardless of questions on transparency and potential conflicts of curiosity.

“Sometimes you just have to make decisions, and sometimes that can appear autocratic, and sometimes it can appear that you’re doing it in a bit of a hurry, and the reality of it is actually both are probably true and both on occasions are necessary,” stated Sebastian Coe, the president of World Athletics, the worldwide governing physique of monitor and discipline, and an I.O.C. member.


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