June 23, 2006

Happy Olympic Day!

This week at the IOC Executive Meeting, there was no announcement about the scheduling of swimming finals at the 2008 Olympics. Or rather, there was an announcement that the decision will be delayed for two months.

The IOC also signed a new agreement with the International Paralympic Committee. The agreement runs through 2016 and ensures that the Paralympics will continue to be held in the same host city as the Olympics, as they have been since 1988. The IOC also approved substantial increases in funding for the Paralympics in 2014 and 2016.

The big news of the week was that the list of candidate cities for the 2014 Winter Olympics has been shortened to three.

Salzburg, Austria, Sochi, Russia, and Pyeongchang, South Korea have been selected from the field of seven to complete a full Candidature File and host an evaluation visit.

Geography — physical geography — plays a big role in the Winter Olympics, so the selection of the right location is pretty important. Looking at the Report by the IOC Candidature Acceptance Working Group (PDF, or get a PDF of the conclusions only), it seems pretty clear that the Executive made the right choice.

As long as I'm talking about bidding again, the USOC is working on the selection of its candidate city for 2016, entertaining five pitches from San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia.

I've got an early prediction on this one, by the way, if you're interested. The US candidate is a near lock for 2016, as long as the USOC doesn't make a stupid choice. This is primarily a function of geography — political geography. The Europeans will be shut out, since London has 2012, and the Americans haven't hosted the Summer Olympics since 1996.

There's one wild card in this prediction, and that's South Africa. Although Durban has not formally decided to bid, I think that might make for an interesting race. Durban will have some facilities in place because of the 2010 World Cup, and there is building political momentum behind a first-ever African hosted Olympics. Rogge himself has encouraged African countries to bid. The president of the South African NOC, Sam Ramsamy, hails from Durban, and is a member of the IOC Executive — a privilege that no American currently holds.

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