IOC pondering the idea of rotating host cities for Winter Olympics

Dec 7 2022, 12:56 am

The idea of rotating hosts for the Winter Olympics within a pre-selected pool of suitable long-term host cities and regions is now a consideration of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

During an IOC press conference Tuesday from the sports organization’s headquarters in Lausanne, the IOC’s leadership told media it is now focused on guaranteeing the future viability of the Winter Olympics and overall winter sports.

The impacts of climate change are now a front-and-centre concern for the future of the Winter Olympics, which is expected to reduce the number of capable host cities as this century progresses.

“We have preliminary results of leading academic research on the impact of climate change, which shows a potential reduction in the number of climate-reliable hosts in the future,” said Christophe Dubi, the IOC’s Olympic Games executive director.

“We have ongoing discussions with winter sport federations on adjustments that have started to be made to their event calendars and potentially new competition formats.”

He emphasized that the IOC is currently only in the very early preliminary stages of considering the idea of rotating hosts for the Winter Olympics. This is not being contemplated for the Summer Olympics at this time.

With a warming climate, host cities would need to be in proximity to mountains on a higher elevation, and with predictable snowfall levels.

There could be a requirement to have potential host cities provide proof of a minimum average temperature of below 0°C for snow competition venues at the time of the Games over a 10-year period.

Besides the mountain venues, the Winter Olympics also have highly specialized and technical venue requirements, including a ski jump, a sliding track, and a speed skating oval.

He added that the IOC’s Future Host Commission is considering aiming to target host cities to have all venues be existing or temporary, which builds on the IOC’s Agenda 2020 reforms — for both the Winter and Summer Games — of introducing more flexibility to the hosting requirements to lower costs and risks and improve the sustainability of hosting.

Since its process for awarding the 2022 Winter Olympics, the IOC has also been dealing with the problem of dwindling interest in hosting both the Winter and Summer editions, but there has been renewed interest more recently as a result of the significant reforms to both the bidding and hosting processes.

For this reason, the IOC has made a decision to delay the decision of the 2030 Winter Olympics host city from the targeted date in September/October 2023 during the 140th IOC Session to after 2023 — most likely in 2024. This provides the IOC with more time to carefully plan the strategy for the future of the Winter Olympics.

Dubi also opened up the possibility of a double award of the 20230 and 2034 Winter Olympics, but no decision has been made on taking this approach.

The potential bid cities for the 2030 Winter Olympics are Vancouver, as well as Salt Lake City in Utah, and Sapporo in Japan. All three cities were previous hosts of the Winter Olympics.

The next Olympics will be held in Paris for 2024 Summer, Milan for 2026 Winter, Los Angeles for 2028 Summer, and Brisbane for 2032 Summer.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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