CIO: Arrangements, finance, geopolitics … and a little sport – EconomyMorning



At the end of March 2021, Thomas Bach was reelected at the head of the International Olympic Committee. A victory that is both crushing and predictable, which owes more to arrangements between friends and geopolitics than to purely sporting interests. The news is not trivial as the Games will be held in a few months, but yet many probably did not notice that the election of the President of the International Olympic Committee took place a few years ago. weeks. It must be admitted that if the ceremony at a distance – coronavirus obliges – deserved a look as it was special, the elections in themselves were not placed under the sign of suspense. Thomas Bach succeeded himself as IOC President, with 93 votes out of 98. It must be admitted that no debate was possible on the subject, in office since 2013, which could have seriously competed with him. ? Having committed no significant odds during the last eight years, it was unlikely that the situation would change, all the more so when we know that this one has, in short, only perpetuated a tradition well anchored for about a year. century. Did you say “arrangements”? Since the end of the 19th century, the IOC has stood out for its immobility, with a succession of presidents all, or almost all, bringing together certain characteristics: a European nationality, a strong personality sometimes bordering on authoritarianism, and the ability to establish their long-term presence. Of course, the idea is not to make a plea against what one could qualify as Olympic monarchy, or even European ethnocentrism, but rather to underline how much the field still seems to be a European preserve, perhaps. even the last large-scale international institution where Europe still really weighs. In addition, this stagnation is not without consequences, insofar as we know that arrangements between friends and the fact of promoting economic interests are barely concealed, and take precedence over sporting concerns. We can in particular quote the fact that Brisbane is currently the only city declared a candidate for the Olympic Games in 2032. A choice which may surprise, if we look at the cost of the organization: around 7.5 billion dollars. ‘euros for Tokyo 2020 (now 2021), a little less than 7 billion for Paris 2024 except for unforeseen events, and a colossal increase in the commission levied by the IOC on TV rights (70% in 2016, against 4% in the 1990s ). In short, if the largest capitals in the world are struggling to amortize such costs, how could an Australian city of about 2 million inhabitants achieve it? Like the election of Thomas Bach, there is no need to maintain the suspense: everything was played out in high places. On February 24, a most opaque dialogue took place between Brisbane (as well as its province of Queensland) and the IOC Commission. A choice of city proposed by John Coates, Vice-President of the IOC, President of the Australian Olympic Committee, President of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but above all, close and strong support of Thomas Bach during his re-election. The Australian is also well known for his negotiating skills, as in 1999 when several thousand dollars were pledged to African voters the day before the vote to determine which city would host the 2000 Olympic Games, including the winner. was of course Sydney. From Olympism to finance, there is only one step Of course, the choice of host cities is not only a question of arrangements: it is also based on economic criteria. If we look closely at the cost of the Olympic Games over the decades, we can see that not only do they keep increasing, but that the host cities have not benefited for a long time, the most recent y having really succeeded was Los Angeles in 1984. Since then, the race for gigantism is such that no profit seems achievable: The increase in costs compared to the initial budget would be of the order of 174% on average, as has been recently declared Armand de Rendinger, specialist in the question; good enough to cool most applicants. The 2002 Games were a perfect example in that we quickly went from 9 candidates to 2. The same goes for the 2024 Games, which went from 7 candidacies to 2. What can we expect in this area? during the next few years? Probably always more gigantism, always more arrangements, but probably also a new mode of organization. As Jean-Baptiste Guégan points out, the Olympic Games to come could depend not on a city, but on an entire zone in order to distribute the costs, like the region of Queensland, for the Brisbane Games in 2032. Thus, if Pierre de Coubertin dreamed of the Olympic Games where everyone would always try to go “faster, higher, stronger”, it seems that reality has taken a completely different turn.