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IOC To Select 2010 YOG Shortlist Monday - GamesBids.com Makes Predictions

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On Monday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will pare down its list of nine applicants for the first Youth Olympic Games (YOG) to be held in 2010. The remaining cities on the short list will compete to hold these inaugural Games with site visits planned for December, an evaluation report in January 2008, and the final voting and announcement scheduled for February.

This fast-forward schedule is unusual for the IOC, but there is no time to waste as the Games must be organized in a little over two years.

Equally unusual is the confusion that has surrounded this bid process ranging from general scheduling to how the member voting process, described as a postal vote, will play out.

The IOC has approached these Games by aggressively emphasizing that they must remain low cost and the bids remain low key – a stark contrast to the way bids have been conducted for the Summer and Winter Games over the past several years.

“Throughout the procedure any promotion of a candidature shall take place with dignity and moderation” the IOC candidature procedure manual explains. While reasonable domestic promotion is permitted, any form of international promotion is not allowed

The IOC strongly recommends that only existing venues be used and no new construction take place – and they recommend that venues have moderate capacities.

Out of the gate the IOC seemed positioned to provide the opportunity to host these Games to cities that aren’t capable or likely to host the larger scale Summer or Winter Olympic Games. By minimizing expenses and construction projects this seemed like a possibility. But as the bid campaign has progressed recent Olympic hosts such as Athens, Turin and Moscow have stepped up – and come election time IOC members may feel compelled to trust these first Games to familiar friends instead of risking them on new and possibly less prepared “second-class” cities.

There is no rule set on how many bids will qualify for the short-list, but with a postal vote presumably allowing for only a single round of balloting the IOC can’t keep it large. Expect three or four cities to be announced as qualifiers on Monday.

The IOC panel of experts who will name the finalists will have to give voters some range of choice and let them choose whether an experienced city should get the nod or whether a lesser known newcomer should have a chance.

Expect Athens to be on the short-list. For sentimental and technical reasons it would be hard to snub the place where the Olympics were born. With new venues that were built for the 2004 Games, classic venues from the first Games of 1896, and cultural opportunities and venues from ancient Olympia an Athens 2010 Games has the ingredients for success. Voting IOC members will feel comfortable with this choice.

Second on the list of former hosts and larger capable cities would be Moscow. Having recently bid for the 2012 Olympic Games that were awarded to London, Moscow has momentum and has already lobbied most current IOC members. Having had a lot of experience hosting international sporting events many world-class venues already exist.

Earlier this year another Russian city, Sochi, won the right to host the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. This may provide further momentum for a Moscow YOG bid (using some of the same personnel), or it could spell disaster for the campaign if members decide that opportunities should be spread to other countries.

If the IOC decides that they want to start the Youth Olympic Games in a new location perhaps they’ll add Singapore to the list. Having recently hosted a high profile IOC session in 2005 (when London was elected host of the 2012 Olympic Games), Singapore has already had the chance to exhibit what they have to offer to the IOC. Singapore is investing heavily in infrastructure and is already developing a focus on youth and sports

While Singapore would likely be a trusted partner to the IOC some of their venues are still under construction and perhaps their bid is premature. Still, the IOC panel will probably want to offer Singapore as an option for the member voters.

A natural fit to round out a possible short-list of four would be Debrecen, Hungary. One of the more obscure cities on the list of applicants, Debrecen seems to define what the IOC is looking for in an inaugural host for these Games.

Debrecen would not likely qualify to host an Olympic Games, but it does have the experience, the facilities, and the drive to host the Youth Olympic Games. The city has hosted 12 regional and international sporting competitions in the past seven years, many of them youth focused. Facilities already exist from the IAAF World Youth Athletics Championships on 2001 and the World Gymnastics Championships in 2002.

Debrecen is a university city and is known as the “City of Youth” as well as a sport capital in Hungary. It would seem to be the ideal place for the world’s youth to gather, compete, and benefit culturally. The very compact venue plan would keep athletes close together and reduce travel time.

But for the IOC, choosing Debrecen wouldn’t be without risks. The bid committee understands this and knows it will have to work hard to compete against the larger cities. They are taking a no-nonsense approach and endeavor to work closely with both the IOC and international federations to properly develop their bid and then eventually organize the Games. Ultimately, it will be up to the IOC members to decide if this is possible.

Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur have both recently bid for, and failed to qualify as finalists for recent Olympic Games. Bangkok has facilities and experience from the 1998 Asian Games and Kuala Lumpur can draw the same from the 1998 Commonwealth Games. While capable hosts, these two bids will likely just miss the short-list in favor of the other more compelling options.

Turin, Italy has the cachet of a former Olympic Winter Games host city, but the IOC will probably dismiss the notion of it as the inaugural host of the Summer Youth Games. Perhaps a bid for the 2012 Youth Olympic Winter Games will pay greater dividends.

Guatemala City hoped to springboard from their foray into the international sports scene as hosts to the IOC session earlier this year, but they lack the experience and facilities to compete in this field. As does little known Poznan, Poland - the final applicant in this field.

There is no precedent for the selection of the YOG short-list, and the qualifying applicants may be chosen more for strategic reasons and less for technical abilities. But with a single postal ballot election anything can happen, and the IOC panel will need to ensure that each accepted candidate can become a suitable partner for these important inaugural Games.

The IOC is expected to announce the short-list mid-day Monday from their Lausanne headquarters. Visit GamesBids.com for the results. Write or read comments about this article

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