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2014 Olympic Winter Bid Short-list Preview

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This Thursday June 22 in Lausanne, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will release their Candidature Acceptance Report that represents a technical evaluation of the 2014 bids based on their questionnaire responses and other data acquired by the IOC such as public opinion polls.

In the past, the IOC has set a benchmark score and they have short-listed each bid that surpasses this score, however they are not committed to this model. Additional bids may also be included at the discretion of the evaluation commission. There is no specific number of bids to be included on the list but expect three or four to make it through to the final election for this bid.

IOC President Jacques Rogge will announce the list of short-listed bids, and these bids will continue their campaigns and provide the IOC with full candidature files, or bid books, in January 2007. A final evaluation report will be published based on city visits and other information submitted and the evaluation commission will choose which bids to put on the final ballot when the final vote takes place July 7, 2007 in Guatemala City.

This is how GamesBids.com rates the chances of each bid. The bids are color coded and ranked in confidence order.


GREEN = WILL BE ACCEPTED
AMBER = MAY OR MAY NOT BE SELECTED
RED = WILL NOT BE SELECTED

SALZBURG, AUSTRIA (GREEN)
Salzburg was chosen over former Olympic host city Innsbruck for the Austrian national nomination last year.

Salzburg’s bid could have been a winner last time around for 2010 if politics and timing were on their side. IOC members anxious to leave the window open for a European city to host the 2012 Summer Games shunned the fundamentally solid bid in favor of cities from other continents. The IOC is lucky to have this bid back in the running after such harsh treatment – the bid received only 16 of a possible 107 votes when it lost on the first ballot.

But Salzburg won’t let that last bid go to waste; the bid team has learned from mistakes and changed for the better. They’ve developed a smarter, more compact venue plan. Gone is the unfitting “Sound of Winter Sports” motto in favor of a more intriguing “Celebrate the Magic of Winter Sport” theme.

The questionable plans for an Olympic Stadium over the Salzach River for 2010 has been replaced by a more interesting and feasible Medals Plaza in the same location for the 2014 bid.

Salzburg has the sport infrastructure, the expertise, the experience and the respect of the IOC – it’s a top contender once again. The team is likely already hard at work on their next phase of the bid.

SOCHI, RUSSIA (GREEN)
It’s clear that Sochi’s strategy was to come out of the gates very quickly and let Russia and the World know that it is serious about this bid.

Perhaps learning from Moscow’s mistakes in the 2012 bid, where poor communication was an early problem – Sochi 2014 has put together an excellent marketing team that has arranged media events and presented very thoroughly and clearly. The IOC questionnaire response was one of the best in the field and Sochi remains one of the most active bids prior to the short-list, something the IOC can’t ignore.

As far as infrastructure and facilities, Sochi trails the frontrunners. But with solid government support and financial backing there is much promise that this resort area could become an Olympic Winter Sports capital.

Russia has never hosted an Olympic Winter Games – a gaping void for such a dominant Winter Olympic nation.

PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA (GREEN)
PyeongChang came out of nowhere and almost pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Olympic bid history before coming just short of winning on both ballots in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games campaign.

The small resort town was almost denied a second chance by the Korean Olympic Committee as it had already been agreed that another Korean bid from Muju would get its turn to bid. But after the International Ski Federation declared that Muju’s ski slopes weren’t high enough – PyeongChang was back for 2014.

The city lacks a deep winter sports history and some key facilities, but they make up for it with energy and heart. No one doubts that the Korean team would be able to fund and build everything necessary to pull off the Games.

Promises made as part of their 2010 campaign have been fulfilled, despite their loss. Transportation upgrade have been made and PyeongChang continues to bid for and win international winter sports events and host the “Dream Program” – an opportunity for young people around the world to experience winter sports when their own climate doesn’t accommodate it.

This time PyeongChang would have to win on its own merits, without the help of the geopolitics that gave them a boost last time around.

JACA, SPAIN (AMBER)
Jaca is also a repeat bidder but it missed the short-list for the 2010 Olympic bid. Since then, the plans have changed significantly.

In fact, while the bid is “branded” Jaca perhaps for a sense of continuity, most facilities are not located in Jaca but instead in the surrounding Aragon and Tena valleys and the city of Zaragoza. As a result, the venue plan is lacking compactness and has poor transportation links.

The bid might benefit from the positive spin-off of Madrid’s 2012 bid last year and will likely be supported by the influential former IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch and may make it to the short-list for these reasons, but there will be too many challenges for it to go much further.

SOFIA, BULGARIA (AMBER)
Sofia, the first bid to officially enter the 2014 race, boasts being the only capital city in the field. As a large urban center, transportation facilities are already present and convincing the IOC of a venue legacy plan will be easy.

While upgrades will need to be made, the bid team hopes that inclusion in the European Union will help provide future funding for the work that needs to be done. But guarantees of this seem unclear.

Sofia’s bid leader recently mentioned that the team intends to pursue a 2018 bid should 2014 fail – perhaps she already sees the writing on the wall

For a bid that started out so strong and promising, it is questionable that the positive message has reached IOC ears. If it has, Sofia might be able to grab the final spot on a four or five city short-list.

ALMATY, KAZAKHSTAN (AMBER)
Almaty was last to officially bid for the 2014 Games just days before the deadline, but the city has done the most to catch the imagination of Olympic watchers.

The bid is well supported and funded by the Kazakhstan government, is located in an ideal setting and offers much promise – but the large amount of infrastructure, accommodation and venue construction required might cause a fear of delays within the IOC.

If there are four bids on the short-list, Almaty may be considered to strike a balance between European and Asian contenders. But it is too premature to choose Almaty as a host city.

BORJOMI, GEORGIA (RED)
Borjomi, Georgia is the only bid that will almost certainly not be selected to the short-list Thursday.

The plan is not feasible for an Olympic Games being too widespread and unorganized – and lacking sufficient accommodation. Major construction would be required to build the needed venues and transportation facilities.

Georgia’s political tension and instability would be too much for the IOC to handle comfortably. Write or read comments about this article

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