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Beijing Faces Post-olympic Dilemmas


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Link to article in context: http://aroundtherings.com/articles/view.aspx?id=31216

Beijing Faces Post-Olympic Dilemmas

(ATR) Promises of legacy and sustainability look enticing on the pages of Olympic bid books, but can ring as hollow as empty stadiums in the aftermath of the Games.

Beijing is the latest Olympic city struggling to find a use for its biggest venue. The centerpiece of the Olympic Green is starting to look like just another white elephant.

The Bird's Nest, the 91,000-seat National Stadium, has become mainly a tourist attraction. Visitors pay around $7 to walk on the stadium floor, plus a bit more if they want to stand on the victory podium and pretend they're Usain Bolt.

Attendance is dwindling, though, and senior citizens have complained that they don't get a discount.

The stadium's capacity is supposed to decrease to 80,000 seats, but there is no long-term tenant. The football club, Guo'an, a Chinese Super League Team, was expected to move in, but backed out of a deal because rent was too expensive.

The only big event reportedly scheduled for the Bird's Nest is the opera "Turandot" on Aug. 8, the one-year anniversary of the 2008 Opening Ceremony. It will be directed by ceremonies maestro Zhang Yimou.

The IOC believed Beijing had plans in place to make it different from Sydney and Athens, cities that built gleaming new facilities that are mostly vacant today despite large maintenance costs.

Soon after Jacques Rogge became IOC president in 2001, he said: "Sydney built - against the advice of the IOC - a 125,000-seat stadium. Now they're struggling financially. I think we have to protect the cities themselves against what they are doing. We don't want to leave white elephants."

The latest movement in Sydney is to add a racetrack for cars to the Olympic Park - anything to bring in revenue and spectators.

As the Beijing Games concluded, Rogge proclaimed that "no white elephant has been built."

Will time prove him wrong? And can London and Vancouver deliver on their own promises?

Organizers for London 2012 thought they had their post-Olympic plan all figured out. They proposed knocking their 80,000 stadium down to 25,000 seats to house a lower-league football or rugby club as part of a mixed-use facility plan.

However, LOCOG chairman Sebastian Coe has insisted that athletics be the stadium's primary legacy, which has become a sticky problem. Football and rugby clubs don't want to play inside a track because sightlines are poor. Their fans like to be closer to the action.

Rogge is willing to compromise. "If the best solution is to transform the track into something else then we would be in favor of that," he said recently. "We had the same situation in Atlanta where the Olympic Stadium was changed into a baseball stadium, which kept an interest for sport."

Manchester, which hosted the Commonwealth Games, took out its track and converted its stadium into an English Premier League venue. The adjacent warm-up track became a regional athletics venue with 6,000 seats. Could London come up with a similar plan, albeit with a larger seating capacity?

That would preserve an Olympic sport legacy and also serve the community's needs.

Beijing is doing that with its other architectural marvel, the Water Cube, where Michael Phelps won eight gold medals. It will be converted into a water park and swimming center. More than 30 years ago, a similar conversion took place in Montreal, where the 1976 aquatics center is now a popular public facility with seven pools.

Other 2008 venues will be dismantled. The first will be the 15,000-seat Wukesong Sports Center baseball field. Baseball advocates lobbied for the facility to remain to help develop the sport in China, but organizers said it was always intended as a temporary venue.

At least money should be made on the baseball site. A shopping mall will be built in its place.

Written by Karen Rosen

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The IOC is really the most self-delusional institution in the world to think that the structures built for its vainglorious extravaganzas will, with the rare exception or 2, become self-sustaining. But what do they care? It's NOT their money being spent; it's some other sucker country.

Bird's Nest will either become the main training site for China's Athletics hopefuls; and/or the most beautiful detention camp in the world. Remember, it has those warrens of rooms underneath. Easily convertible to dungeons and torture chambers.

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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The IOC is really the most self-delusional institution in the world to think that the structures built for its vainglorious extravaganzas will, with the rare exception or 2, become self-sustaining. But what do they care? It's NOT their money being spent; it's some other sucker country.

Bird's Nest will either become the main training site for China's Athletics hopefuls; and/or the most beautiful detention camp in the world. Remember, it has those warrens of rooms underneath. Easily convertible to dungeons and torture chambers.

Baron Baron Baron If I have told you once I have told you a million times stop being the eternal optimist . The Caverns underneath the Stadium will become Slave labor camps for painting lead base paint onto Toys for the Rest of the World.

In General I agree the IOC is self-delusional in believing the legacy promises will be self sustaining. That is why I think the tokenism for China of Staging the Games is worth it for the coming out party of a nation arriving but a London ???? Like you said another Sucker host nation is born.

The Evaluation and choice of any city to host a sports festival to me should be . HOW many venues of the international federations standards do you actually have . The city with the most venues Hosts .

It is great to say hey the environment will be improved Beijing because of the games but that I bet is only temporary and it is probably business as usual in Beijing now.

Jim jones

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The IOC is really the most self-delusional institution in the world to think that the structures built for its vainglorious extravaganzas will, with the rare exception or 2, become self-sustaining. But what do they care? It's NOT their money being spent; it's some other sucker country.

Yeah, like the IOC requested Beijing to build the bird nest...

Again, last time I checked, the IOC does not force any country / city to bid: Barcelona, Atlanta, Salt Lake, Vancouver, where is the extravaganza?

Coming from Mr. "I am only interested in Ceremonies", which is the ultimate vainglorious extravaganzas, this has to be one of your dumbest posts.

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Yeah, like the IOC requested Beijing to build the bird nest...

Again, last time I checked, the IOC does not force any country / city to bid: Barcelona, Atlanta, Salt Lake, Vancouver, where is the extravaganza?

Coming from Mr. "I am only interested in Ceremonies", which is the ultimate vainglorious extravaganzas, this has to be one of your dumbest posts.

Oh, excuse me. Unlike you, I don't kiss IOC ass and I speak the truth.

"Where is the extravaganza?" you ask? Why? the ridiculous 2-week orgy of sport - what else?

No, it's true that they don't force any city/country to bid; but at the same time, they really DON"T put their money where their mouth is...or rather they put their foot in their mouth; and their money elsewhere!! They encourage high-stakes bidding but do NOT strongly discourge the cities to just put-together very simple, economical bids. When have they said, when there have been several bidders, "OK, this looks like the most humble, economical, budget-conscious bid -- let's go WHOLEHEARTEDLY with this one"? It's only when they're stuck with ONE CITY (cases in point, Lake Placid 1980 and LA 1984), that they appear to eat humble pie!!

I'd rather they spend the millions on Ceremonies -- at least it's truly CELEBRATORY and it'll entertain me and millions -- rather than dumb stadia which mean NOTHING to me at all!! :P

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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<snip>

It is great to say hey the environment will be improved Beijing because of the games but that I bet is only temporary and it is probably business as usual in Beijing now.

Jim jones

Confirmed. Business as usual in Beijing right now. For the average person, the Games seem like they happened a lifetime ago.

I always thought that of all Beijing's shiny new and renovated facilities, the Birds Nest was going to be the most problematic in its Olympic afterlife. Other than the VERY occasional Cantopop or Taiwanpop outdoor concert--which have always been handled at Workers Stadium--there isn't much else activity that comes to/through Beijing that (1) works in the context of a stadium venue, (2) can draw 50,000+ people, and (3) is allowed by our Ruling Authorities. (That last one, very important and an obstacle that most of the previous host cities didn't have.) The rest of the permanent facilities all fill sports-and-recreation gaps that Beijing could have used even without the Olympics coming to town.

Although I'm an architect and on the one hand, always interested in gee-whiz new structures and facilities, on the other hand it always amazes me at how overboard Host Cities go to stage these Games, particularly on the capital projects $$$$ side. Too much Edifice Complex going on, an afflication shared by much of the IOC membership, I'm sure. I actually thought London's concept of a "temporary" large-capacity stadium that could be whittled down to something more useable post-Games, was a great concept if properly executed, and more in keeping with current and future economic realities.

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As Baron says, If the IOC wants us to take its "we want to reduce the scale of the Games" story seriously, then it should appear to be serious about it.

Cutting the scale of the Games is not cutting out a baseball and softball venue. Its about making an executive board decision about which city offers the type of Games that would not inspire other cities to be extravagant.

Its about taking bold steps and shoving the diplomacy aside in evaluation reports by clearly stating, "and wtf do you think you will do with this 90,000 seater after the games?"

By allowing IOC Members to vote Sochi and London you're not sending the right message

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Cutting the scale of the Games is not cutting out a baseball and softball venue. Its about making an executive board decision about which city offers the type of Games that would not inspire other cities to be extravagant.

Its about taking bold steps and shoving the diplomacy aside in evaluation reports by clearly stating, "and wtf do you think you will do with this 90,000 seater after the games?"

Amen to all that.

I have campaigned for years for the evaluation report to be a true evaluation report clearly highlighting the risks associated to each bid. The sad thing is that there is a huge difference between the comments made by the evaluation commission during and after the visits and what is actually stated in the EC report.

Either allow the EC to publish a real evaluation report or let the IOC members visit the cities again: 2 IOC members recently told me that they would have never voted for Sochi had they visited the city before the vote!

The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that the Executive Board should be the one selecting the host cities: its members, as well as the CoComm members know what staging the Games means. Most of the other IOC members have no idea.

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2 IOC members recently told me that they would have never voted for Sochi had they visited the city before the vote!

That just proves that they, as a body, DON'T care that a 6-year (say, on PC's part) effort worth what? $40 million or so? mattered at all -- because of their ridiculous rule of having something as TERRIBLY IMPORTANT as an Olympics site selected from afar. I mean the merits of each candidate city to be judged up-close and first-hand takes a BACK SEAT to the insane rule of NO VISITS. Luckily I am not a bidding city. Otherwise, with an observation like that above, I would just tell the IOC to go f*ck themselves!!

And if it were within my power, I would even go one step farther -- and have the IOC members put down WHY they vote for one city over another -- and have an independent panel review and veto those ballots!! And if the reasoning does NOT make sense, the ballot is invalidated!!

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The sad thing about all this is that the IOC knows the solution.

Here are some highlights from the Olympic Games Study Commission report (not surprisingly chaired by Dick Pound). Legacy, deviation from the Games Template, real role for the Evaluation Commission: it says it all.

Under the new process for electing host cities for the Games, the Evaluation Commissions

have a duty to identify excesses and to focus attention on them, in clear and precise language.

The IOC members, and the public in each candidate city’s country, must be made aware of

the implications of any aspects of the bids that exceed the Games template. IOC members

themselves must exercise a particular duty of responsibility, to demonstrate that they support

these principles, when they vote to elect a host city for the Games. Additionally, roles and

responsibilities between the IOC and other stakeholders must be clearly defined. It is the

IOC, in consultation with other parties, which establishes Games requirements and takes the

necessary measures to stop inflation.

This factor places an extra burden on the Evaluation Commissions to be sure that all aspects

of each candidate city’s bid are properly identified and assessed. It will also require a change

in the traditional mind-set that has been a feature of IOC reports regarding candidate cities.

The Evaluation Commissions must be prepared to make choices and distinctions between

candidate cities for the benefit of IOC members, since only the Commissions have the

opportunity to see and to study in the requisite detail each of the candidacies. It will no

longer be appropriate to couch the reports in bland generalizations or to refer only vaguely

to certain "challenges" that will be faced by particular cities if they are chosen. Both the

strong and weak points of each candidate must be clearly identified. The candidate cities are

in a competition and they must be prepared to be judged accordingly.

The following principles related to the IOC Evaluation Commissions are submitted for

consideration by the IOC:

The IOC Executive Board should review the mandate of the Evaluation Commissions

and make changes to ensure that their reports are complete, specific and useful for their

intended purpose.

Evaluation Commission reports should focus on the cost aspects of the various

candidacies, specifically identifying variations from the Games "template" and the

resultant cost and complexity increases.

Evaluation Commissions should press for reliable information on legacy aspects of each

Games facility and probe for opportunities to use temporary facilities and to double-up

on usage of facilities.

Host city and host country governments should be requested to confirm in writing any

legacy needs that exceed the Olympic "template" and to provide reliable assurances as

to financing of construction and funding of post-Games usage.

Any variations from the IOC guidelines that may appear in applications and in the

proposals of candidate cities should be highlighted, and cost estimates of the variations

should be obtained from the cities involved, be assessed by the IOC for accuracy, then

published.

The IOC Executive Board should develop an IOC communications strategy to make

clear the mandate of the Evaluation Commissions, including a specific component

directed to the costs of organizing the Games. Such a communication strategy must also

be designed to inform the public of the IOC’s intentions regarding the cost, size and

complexities of the organization of the Games and additional costs resulting from the

plans of potential host cities. It should address the objective of creating the best

possible legacy of the Games (which does not mean the "biggest" facilities) and the

cooperative management of the preparations for and operations of the Games under the

guidance of the IOC.

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As Baron says, If the IOC wants us to take its "we want to reduce the scale of the Games" story seriously, then it should appear to be serious about it.

Cutting the scale of the Games is not cutting out a baseball and softball venue. Its about making an executive board decision about which city offers the type of Games that would not inspire other cities to be extravagant.

Its about taking bold steps and shoving the diplomacy aside in evaluation reports by clearly stating, "and wtf do you think you will do with this 90,000 seater after the games?"

By allowing IOC Members to vote Sochi and London you're not sending the right message

I couldn't have put it better myself.

(without running the risk of being accused of paranoia and sour grapes, that is!)

One wonders whatever happened to all those wonderful decision taken in Prague in 2003?

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The sad thing about all this is that the IOC knows the solution.

Here are some highlights from the Olympic Games Study Commission report (not surprisingly chaired by Dick Pound). Legacy, deviation from the Games Template, real role for the Evaluation Commission: it says it all.

(snip)

The IOC Executive Board should develop an IOC communications strategy to make

clear the mandate of the Evaluation Commissions, including a specific component

directed to the costs of organizing the Games. Such a communication strategy must also

be designed to inform the public of the IOC’s intentions regarding the cost, size and

complexities of the organization of the Games and additional costs resulting from the

plans of potential host cities. It should address the objective of creating the best

possible legacy of the Games (which does not mean the "biggest" facilities) and the

cooperative management of the preparations for and operations of the Games under the

guidance of the IOC.

All very wise and proper Jeremie, and I couldn't agree more with what you're saying.

Unfortunately it's wishful thinking.

Why?

Henry Kissinger clearly stated the reasons in September 2005 when asked how he explained Paris' failure to win the 2012 games:

"Les Français n'ont pas compris ce qu'est le CIO. Beaucoup de ses membres viennent de pays pauvres."

All is said in that one sentence.

Differences between winners and losers in the bidding wars are minute.

(Beijing lost by 2 votes to Sydney in 1993, PyeongChang 3 votes to Vancouver, Paris 4 votes to London)

It's quite clear that IOC members from Third World countries couldn't care two hoots about facilities, legacy et al...

They see the games as a rich/white man's event from which they are excluded.

Coherent analysis is not for them.

They are only interested by what they can gain for themselves and nothing else.

As long as the IOC have Third World members in its midst, sadly, nothing will change.....

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A two vote swing the other way and Paris would have won. It's easy to overanalyse these things. Paris didn't do a lot wrong in all honesty and I'm sure after their third bid and tens of millions of pounds being spent they understood the dynamic of the IOC pretty damn well. They didn't lose because they grossly misunderstood the IOC, they lost because they didn't win.

If a bid as good as Paris' lost by 10 or more votes it might be worth going into this sort of analysis. As it was, only one bid could win and Paris was unlucky that it wasn't theirs; by a hair's breadth. It would have been the same had London lost by four votes, which could easily have happened given the strength of the competition.

Edited by Rob ♪
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That said, I don't think the city with the highest score in the evaluation report should host.

I'd present Madrid as a lower risk than Tokyo.

With regards to visits by IOC members.

All IOC members visited Athens in 1996/1997 and look how that turned out .

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(Beijing lost by 2 votes to Sydney in 1993, PyeongChang 3 votes to Vancouver, Paris 4 votes to London)

It's quite clear that IOC members from Third World countries couldn't care two hoots about facilities, legacy et al...

They see the games as a rich/white man's event from which they are excluded.

Coherent analysis is not for them.

They are only interested by what they can gain for themselves and nothing else.

As long as the IOC have Third World members in its midst, sadly, nothing will change.....

Frenchy, and nowhere is that statement more TRUE than in the selection of the Winter Games host. What would a rep from Haiti or Tananarive or Sri Lanka care about where the snow 'monkeys' (to use a crude term) play?

If those IOC members don't know:

1. what the difference between a "half-pike" and a "twizel" is, or

2. who Rudi Galindo or Sonja Henie or Vera Wang are; or

3. OK, let's make it easier for the 3rd world members -- which Games Surya Bonaly did her backflip...

then they have no business voting in the Winter Games election. :angry:

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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So...if the Executive Board voted for host cities, who would have been chosen?

Rome over Athens? Paris over London? Toronto over Beijing?

Hard to tell:

  • Rome Vs Athens would have been a lot closer but I think Athens would still probably have won (Rome did a very poor campaign while Athens was brilliant)
  • Paris over London: if it was not for London brillant presentation, I would have said Paris but I think it would have been really close as well
  • Beijing all the way...

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That said, I don't think the city with the highest score in the evaluation report should host.

I'd present Madrid as a lower risk than Tokyo.

With regards to visits by IOC members.

All IOC members visited Athens in 1996/1997 and look how that turned out .

I don't necessarily think that the Evaluation Commission should give a score to each bid. Rather clearly highlights the assets and weaknesses of each respective bid and provides an overall risk assessment level (like what is done for the YOG Evaluation Report). Then the voting members can make up their minds knowing what they are doing.

What is useless is having to read between the lines to decide whether "would stage" is better than "could stage"...

As for Athens, let's be fair: in terms of readiness to host the Games, there was not as much difference between Rome and Athens than there was between Sochi and Salzburg. Athens had problems because it took 3 years for ATHOC and the Greek Authorities to get in order. The major infrastructure work (new airport, metro, ring road) was well under construction when the Games were awarded to Athens.

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A two vote swing the other way and Paris would have won. It's easy to overanalyse these things. Paris didn't do a lot wrong in all honesty and I'm sure after their third bid and tens of millions of pounds being spent they understood the dynamic of the IOC pretty damn well. They didn't lose because they grossly misunderstood the IOC, they lost because they didn't win.

If a bid as good as Paris' lost by 10 or more votes it might be worth going into this sort of analysis. As it was, only one bid could win and Paris was unlucky that it wasn't theirs; by a hair's breadth. It would have been the same had London lost by four votes, which could easily have happened given the strength of the competition.

Rob to me it seems you can see two very apparent things with the victory of London over Paris. A. London is building a new Stadium with an athletics Legacy Promised B. Paris would not . I don't think the win is just that simple but lets say you divided the final vote 50/50 with the exception of one voter Lamine Diack which way would he vote to decide and who would win ? Well London of course as Lamine Diack is the President of the IAAF and it is in his interest to expand the venues his sport can be hosted. Now have a 50/50 split in voting with the exception of IOC members that were in Athletics and you have 11 additional IOC members who would probably have the same interest as Lamine Diack.

I frankly don't think Lamine Diack , Frankie Fredericks or the others with Athletics Careers in their pasts have in mind what Dick Pound or Jacques Rogge talk of in regards to being conservative when it comes to the Olympics. It is certain that they probably don't care if a city or country goes bankrupt with a Stadium or the Games .

If London is offering a new venue in the world for the IAAF post games then most likely they will pick up those votes compared to Paris. Then you have people associated with that group of voters . There is little doubt an aquatics centre and a velodrome would be built in most bid cities as the capacities and the specialized nature make building new needed in many cases. The interests of the Fina People are usually served better for legacy then IAAF simply because what does one convert an Aquatics Centre to post games?

Athletics is largest background of IOC Members who were former Athletes . It could indeed be close but IAAF former Athletes and the President of that body make up over 10 percent of the vote. THe IAAF has no leverage with cities to install Athletics Stadiums that require about 35 percent more floor space then most of your professional team field sports and thus their only power to get those venues can lay with the Summer Olympics. Going to Paris does not expand IAAF's footprint. Same would go for New York for 2012 and Moscow for that matter. New york would convert to NFL football and Moscow would probably just use an existing stadium.

You would think having the stadium would have the opposite effect as reducing risk but the IAAF based in Monaco would have little in touch with the realities of Joe Blow in England that would end up paying for a new stadium with Tax Money.

Heck Taxes while I live in Monaco What are taxes ?

with the Chicago 2016 bid basically scraping the track and much of the grandstands post games I can see that not being a selling point to the IAAF block. Tokyo may indeed have the inside chance with that group thou an expansion of the JV stadium for Rio 2016 might prevail. The key may be as simple as retaining the tartan surface if you are the only one to do that or be the only one building a brand new surface to be retrained post games.

We could see the 2016 decision come down to new or retained Tartan surfaces.

Jim jones

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The sad thing about all this is that the IOC knows the solution.

Here are some highlights from the Olympic Games Study Commission report (not surprisingly chaired by Dick Pound). Legacy, deviation from the Games Template, real role for the Evaluation Commission: it says it all.

Under the new process for electing host cities for the Games, the Evaluation Commissions

have a duty to identify excesses and to focus attention on them, in clear and precise language.

The IOC members, and the public in each candidate city’s country, must be made aware of

the implications of any aspects of the bids that exceed the Games template. IOC members

themselves must exercise a particular duty of responsibility, to demonstrate that they support

these principles, when they vote to elect a host city for the Games. Additionally, roles and

responsibilities between the IOC and other stakeholders must be clearly defined. It is the

IOC, in consultation with other parties, which establishes Games requirements and takes the

necessary measures to stop inflation.

This factor places an extra burden on the Evaluation Commissions to be sure that all aspects

of each candidate city’s bid are properly identified and assessed. It will also require a change

in the traditional mind-set that has been a feature of IOC reports regarding candidate cities.

The Evaluation Commissions must be prepared to make choices and distinctions between

candidate cities for the benefit of IOC members, since only the Commissions have the

opportunity to see and to study in the requisite detail each of the candidacies. It will no

longer be appropriate to couch the reports in bland generalizations or to refer only vaguely

to certain "challenges" that will be faced by particular cities if they are chosen. Both the

strong and weak points of each candidate must be clearly identified. The candidate cities are

in a competition and they must be prepared to be judged accordingly.

The following principles related to the IOC Evaluation Commissions are submitted for

consideration by the IOC:

The IOC Executive Board should review the mandate of the Evaluation Commissions

and make changes to ensure that their reports are complete, specific and useful for their

intended purpose.

Evaluation Commission reports should focus on the cost aspects of the various

candidacies, specifically identifying variations from the Games "template" and the

resultant cost and complexity increases.

Evaluation Commissions should press for reliable information on legacy aspects of each

Games facility and probe for opportunities to use temporary facilities and to double-up

on usage of facilities.

Host city and host country governments should be requested to confirm in writing any

legacy needs that exceed the Olympic "template" and to provide reliable assurances as

to financing of construction and funding of post-Games usage.

Any variations from the IOC guidelines that may appear in applications and in the

proposals of candidate cities should be highlighted, and cost estimates of the variations

should be obtained from the cities involved, be assessed by the IOC for accuracy, then

published.

The IOC Executive Board should develop an IOC communications strategy to make

clear the mandate of the Evaluation Commissions, including a specific component

directed to the costs of organizing the Games. Such a communication strategy must also

be designed to inform the public of the IOC’s intentions regarding the cost, size and

complexities of the organization of the Games and additional costs resulting from the

plans of potential host cities. It should address the objective of creating the best

possible legacy of the Games (which does not mean the "biggest" facilities) and the

cooperative management of the preparations for and operations of the Games under the

guidance of the IOC.

The Solution is very apparent stop the building of Venues by picking bid cities with much on the ground at the time of the Bid. That would favor a Rio for 2016 .

Jim Jones

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The Solution is very apparent stop the building of Venues by picking bid cities with much on the ground at the time of the Bid. That would favor a Rio for 2016 .

Jim Jones

That would mean Madrid is elected period.

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The Solution is very apparent stop the building of Venues by picking bid cities with much on the ground at the time of the Bid. That would favor a Rio for 2016 .

Jim Jones

Are you insane?

What would happen to all those juicy building contracts and backhanders?

Over the IOC's dead body, my good man!!

:P

As an aside, it would be great if some courageous investigative journalist (not Andrew Jennings, he's thrown in the towel) did some research on the relations between IOC members and the construction industry (nod-nod, wink-wink)

;)

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