POSTED: April 14th 2018

NEIL WILSON: Are The Winter Olympics Headed For Another Double Award?

© Bigstock
© Bigstock

THE NEIL WILSON COLUMN / An exclusive, authoritative series from Sports Features Communications

(SFC) Hardly had the International Olympic Committee announced to its great relief that seven cities were talking with it about bidding for the 2026 Winter Games when more allegations of vote selling by its members surfaced.

This time unnamed 27 members, 12 of them African, were accused by South Korean broadcasters SBS of being complicit in corrupt voting for PyeongChang 2018 bid organized it claimed by disgraced former IOC member Lamine Diack's son Papa. 

Samsung denied it but corruption within the IOC TOP sponsoring corporation has form in recent times leading to charges and resignations. The IOC itself issued a statement which ignored completely Samsung's alleged involvement but focused on the disgraced Diack and son. 

The effect though was immediate. One of the seven cities became lukewarm in its interest. Calgary's city council will decide next week whether to invest any more money and its provincial government said it would not offer any without a referendum, a word dreaded in IOC circles for damning many past bids.

One Calgary councillor pointed the finger directly, calling out the IOC on corruption. "It goes much, much deeper," said Jyoti Gondek to local news outlets.

Others among the six in dialogue with the IOC may not be any more firm in their intentions. Stockholm's bid is founded on its national Olympic committee plan but does not have political support. 

Graz in Austria, which bid unsuccessfully for 2002, is conducting a feasibility study and knows that neighbouring Innsbruck's intention to bid for previous Games foundered on a public referendum. Past experience in Switzerland may suggest Sion might also be threatened by a public vote.

An Italian bid by Cortina d'Ampezzo, Milan or Turin is an outsider since the last time the Games came to Europe as recently as 2006 was to Turin, and Sapporo in Japan is at the longest odds because 2018 and 2022 Winter Games were awarded to Asia. 

Then there is Erzurum in Turkey. It has a ski jump, curling hall and hockey rink built as recently as for the 2011 Winter Universiad, and it has the perfect winter climate and altitude. It may suffer though from political considerations, its proximity to the Iraq and Syrian borders and terrorist activity by the banned Kurdish PKK group in Eastern Turkey.

The IOC decide in October which of the seven should received its invitation to become a candidate but it could be that this less than magnificent seven may well be reduced before the vote to a pair of stayers.

Then we could see a repeat of the 2026-2030 double summer Games award to Paris and Los Angeles. Sapporo has even intimated that it may be more interested in 2030.

So that is my tip - Europe in 2026, probably Switzerland, and Sapporo in 2030 - and by negotiation, removing the need for a vote. That will have the added benefit of resolving the corruption problem for the IOC. 

** NEIL WILSON reported his first Olympic Games in Munich in 1972. He has since covered another nine summer and nine winter Olympics for various newspapers, including The Independent and the Daily Mail with whom he has worked for the last 19 years as Athletics and Olympic correspondent. He was Britain's Sports Journalist of the Year in 1984 and is the author of seven books.

****The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sports Features Communications.

Keywords · Olympics · Neil Wilson

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