LAUSANNE Switzerland (Reuters) - The International Olympic Committee on Tuesday cracked open the door for more than one city or country to host the same Olympics as it looks for ways of cutting costs and making its prime product more appealing.
The IOC has long resisted attempts by countries and cities to co-host the world’s biggest multi-sports event, saying it would water down the experience for athletes and fans, but IOC president Thomas Bach said it now made sense.
Presenting the IOC’s 40 recommendations for change to be voted on in December, Bach told a small group of reporters reasons of sustainability could see another city or even another country hosting some of the competitions of an Olympics.
“What you see is the opportunity for specific reasons and the reasons are for sustainability... to go to the cities for part of a competition or for the whole competition,” he said.
“The door is much more open and we even address that on the legal side where we say that in such cases we may have more than one contract partner.”
Bach, who has been pushing for changes at the IOC since taking over in 2013, said the central idea of one athletes’ Olympic village and one main host would not change.
“The unity of time, place and action, like a Greek drama, cannot change,” he said.
“But if two countries are sharing a mountain, why not share a bid? You can also have in the Winter Games a city or a region that can provide 95 percent of the facilities, but that the five percent are missing. Why not then to open the door for them (another city or country)?”
The last joint bid submitted to the IOC was from Poland’s Krakow, which had some competitions planned in neighboring Slovakia in its bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics before pulling out earlier this year.
“If you have a smaller country which does not have a lake for sailing why not go to a neighboring country,” Bach said.
“It would still be a bid of the city but could be complemented by other partners.”
Former Olympic skiing champion Maria Hoefl-Riesch said such a change would be good for the Games.
“It is a question of organization,” Hoefl-Riesch told Reuters. “We have seen it in football with joint organizers. Why not? It will still be one Olympic city with another staging part of the competition. It makes absolute sense.”
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Ken Ferris