6 Feb 2014

Future of Olympics being considered

1:12 pm on 6 February 2014

From a cheaper bidding process to hosting Games in more than one city, the International Olympic Committee has opened the floor to suggestions as it looks to keep the world's biggest multi-sports event popular and profitable in the years ahead.

The IOC reaps massive profits from the Games but the organisation is alarmed at dwindling numbers of candidates for host cities, rising costs and social opposition to the Olympics.

The Sochi Games, which open on Friday, are the most expensive Olympics ever with a price tag of more than $US50 billion, but questions are being asked if the huge investment is worth it.

Ratings agency Moody's says the Sochi Games are unlikely to provide much of a boost to the Russian economy.

Several cities have already pulled out of the race to host the 2022 Winter Games amid concerns about rising costs, while protests in Brazil ahead of this year's World Cup and the 2016 Rio Olympics have further highlighted the problems associated with hosting mega sports events.

The discussions are part of the IOC's Olympic Agenda 2020, launched by President Thomas Bach after his election in September, to revamp the Games.

Members also discussed the feasibility of staging Games in two cities, or even more than one country, and the possibility of subsidising bids that can cost close to $100 million.

Most, however, believed that staging a Games in two different cities would affect the "uniqueness" of the event and have an impact on the overall atmosphere.

Many spoke in favour of reinstating city visits for IOC members, which were banned following the Salt Lake City bribery scandal where members received gifts in return for votes in favour of the American city to host the 2002 Olympics.

Currently, only an appointed evaluation commission is allowed to visit candidate cities on behalf of the IOC.

Israeli IOC member Alex Gilady said members "could not look themselves in the mirror" voting for a city they did not visit.

The IOC will also discuss raising the number of sports in the Games and whether changes should be made to a seven-year waiting period for their introduction.

Decisions will be taken at an extraordinary session in December.