February 24, 2017 / 5:18 PM / 2 years ago

IOC pledges changes to bid process after Budapest exit

BERLIN (Reuters) - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) pledged on Friday to make changes to the bidding process following the withdrawal of Budapest from the race to host the 2024 Games, leaving just two candidates.

Timea Szabo(C), co-chair of opposition party Parbeszed Magyarorszagert hands over documents with signatures supporting a referendum on Budapest's 2024 Olympic bid to political movement Momentum at a stand in Budapest, Hungary, February 16, 2017. Picture taken February 16, 2017. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh - RTSZ36T

The Hungarian capital pulled the plug on its project following a collection of more than 200,000 signatures against the bid, with Paris and Los Angeles the only cities left in contention for the IOC vote in September.

“It is disappointing that this (Budapest) decision had to be taken – the candidature committee had presented an excellent project, which has built on the reforms contained in Olympic Agenda 2020,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said.

“It also demonstrated that smaller cities and smaller countries can stage the Olympic Games in a feasible and sustainable way.”

Agenda 2020 is a set of 40 reforms voted in back in 2014 to make the Games more appealing to potential host cities, reducing size and cost as well as its complexity.

Critics have said that Agenda 2020 had so far failed to deliver given that eight cities have pulled out of the 2022 and 2024 campaigns.

Rome, Hamburg, Boston and Budapest have all withdrawn from bidding for the 2024 summer Games while Oslo, Stockholm, Krakow and Ukraine’s Lviv pulled out during the race for the 2022 winter Games two years ago.

The IOC said if it were not for the changes of Agenda 2020 no city would now be bidding for the Games.

“With regard to the candidature procedure as such, the political situation in our fragile world requires us to make adjustments in this respect as the current procedure produces too many losers,” Adams said.

Among the suggested changes are to confirm Paris and Los Angeles as the hosts of the next two Olympics, awarding two Games at the vote in September to give the IOC stability over a longer period of time.

Some IOC members have expressed their opposition to such a move that carries increased financial and political risk given that the 2028 Games would be awarded 11 years in advance.

“These adjustments will be discussed with all the stakeholders of the Olympic Movement. In the meantime, the candidature procedure for the Olympic Games 2024 will continue with the two excellent candidatures of Los Angeles and Paris,” Adams said.

Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Ed Osmond

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