LAUSANNE, Switzerland (Reuters) - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will conduct its own research to judge public support for hosting the 2024 Summer Games in each of the five bidding cities, its president Thomas Bach said on Wednesday.
Budapest, Hamburg, Los Angeles, Paris and Rome were officially unveiled as candidates to host the Games on Wednesday in what Bach described as a strong and diverse field.
The IOC was rocked by a disappointing campaign for the 2022 Winter Games, where St Moritz/Davos, Munich and Krakow dropped planned bids or pulled out of the race after public referendums voted against a bid.
To revive interest, it has adopted a series of reforms under the banner ‘Agenda 2020’ which were aimed at making it easier to bid for, and cheaper to host, the Olympics.
“The IOC wants to send the athletes only in cities where they are welcome, this is why public support for a bid is so important,” Bach told Reuters in an interview at the IOC headquarters.
”To ensure the measurement of this public support, the IOC is doing its own confidential polls at the same time in all five candidate cities, so that we get an objective result which we then can compare.
“It is up to the city how to demonstrate this support, there are many different means, different legal systems, all over the world so this is up to the city.”
Hamburg is so far the only city to have plans for a referendum with the city holding it on Nov. 29 and hoping for a strong vote in favor of the Games.
“We welcome these results by the cities, but in order to be sure, to be neutral, in order to be objective we do our own work,” Bach said.
Bach said the field for 2024, which included a so-called invitation phase where candidate cities could discuss their bid with the IOC, had showed that the new bidding process was a success.
“It is showing very positive results, with this agenda 2020 we have changed the whole procedure for being a candidate,” he said.
”Now, we are inviting the candidates to tell us their vision for their cities, and how the games would fit best into this vision and how the Olympic Games can serve as a catalyst to make this vision for their city come true.
“This has produced this very strong field and has also produced what we wanted to achieve, a very diverse field and a very creative approach to the organization of the Olympic Games.”
He added: “We are delighted to see how the newly created invitation phase has worked... it has allowed us to enter into a dialogue with potential candidate cities from the very beginning of the procedure.”
Under the new rules, candidate cities also have to fulfill requirements on anti-discrimination and labor rights.
“We are not making a judgment,” said Bach. “What we want to encourage with the Olympic Games, and what we want to demonstrate, is that the Olympic Games can serve as a kind of example for a peaceful society, without any kind of discrimination, with free reporting by the media.”
Editing by Sudipto Ganguly/Karolos Grohmann