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Bid Books - Are they of Any Real Use Anymore? (if they ever were)


Sir Rols

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It's a bit quiet here on Gbids today, and I'm also having a lull week at work, so I just thought I'd throw out an idea for discussion here that's been percolating on my mind for the past few weeks, - since the subject of bid books came up and Lord David was shocked at the suggestion that any IOC members may not actually read them.

For LD, I'd just like to quote everyone's favourite blunt and outspoken IOC member, Dick Pound:

...

Critics have described Olympic bid books as works of fiction because what they promise is often far from the reality years later.

"A lot of it was fiction, wishful thinking, hope, prayer and all that," senior Canadian IOC member Dick Pound said. "But the bid books are now more responsible than they used to be. Now you have an evaluation commission to find out if there has been gross exaggeration."

How many of the 115 IOC members will actually read the bid books is a different matter. "Probably fewer than the candidates would hope," Pound said.

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Anyway, the proposition I'd like to put up is that Bid Books are these days even far less important than they used to be.

Of course, cities have to submit some sort of detailed plan so the technocrats and IOC evaluators can assess whether the city's plans are viable or not, and let the IOC know in general terms what sort of plan they are being asked to buy into. And before the Applicant/Candidate-short list system was introduced, the bid book was the only document that they could be judged on. But even then, I'd wager that most IOC members got their feeling for the bids from the final evaluation reports, rather than poring through each book individually and scrupulously.

But now that we have the two-phase campaigns, I think they've lost a lot of this purpose as well. As many here have remarked over the years, the candidate city short list, which is based solely on the Applicant questionaire submissions, is basically now the main technical hoop the cities have to pass – once they've been named as candidates, the assumption is that the Executive Committee has judged them as technically capable of staging a games, usually with a few suggestions of what could be improved or tweaked a bit. And then the constraints are off – IOC members can then judge between the remaining cities for whatever criteria they choose, secure in the knowledge all have passed the technical bench mark. Through the IOC's own reports and media reporting, it's quite easy for anybody from an IOC member to a chatterer on an online forum to know what the major points, plusses and weaknesses of every bid.

In which case I'd argue that the bid books, which are delivered usually in the final 6-8 months of a campaign, are virtually superfluous now. They're too big and statistically oriented to be of much use as a marketing document, most of the plans are pretty well known by then, changes to the original plans would have been widely communicated in the various bidders' statements and campaigns, and they're unlikely to be read by anyone but the technical gurus of the IOC and Ifs anyway. And it's the IOC's final Evaluation Report a month out from the vote that pretty well strongly signals how they'd like the wider membership to consider the candidates. I'd wager the likes of Blair's and Putin's tête-à-têtes with individual members, or Rio's famous maps and presentations, or confidence and government guarantees, or issues of rotation and favours and blocs and personal likes and dislikes had far more impact in their respective wins than their voluminous bid books ever did. I'd go as far as saying the final presentations are likely to sway more votes than the bid books ever do – and even then I think most host victories are sealed long before the voting sessions.

I'm not saying there's no role for bid books – as I said, you've got to have that basic technical blueprint. But I think people give them more credence and importance than they warrant in a campaign. If anything, I think possibly they should be presented earlier in the campaign instead of the applicant documents, rather than later in the campaigns when they've or little importance any more.

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Obviously not all IOC members read them all. They do help in seeing the different aspects of the city and if they are qualified. They also give us the chance to discuss the bids :lol:

I'm not saying there shouldn't be bid books - obviously there has to be some plan dossier produced by bidders along the way. I just think that at the end, it's the plans that get cities into the short list, which is the vital prerequisite of every bid, but it's the campaigns that get them onto the winner's podium to sign the host city contract.

I guess I'm just more into the politics of bidding than the plans.

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I'm not saying there shouldn't be bid books - obviously there has to be some plan dossier produced by bidders along the way. I just think that at the end, it's the plans that get cities into the short list, which is the vital prerequisite of every bid, but it's the campaigns that get them onto the winner's podium to sign the host city contract.

I guess I'm just more into the politics of bidding than the plans.

Maybe removing the bid book just with an applicant file would suffice.

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Simple: Applicant bid books are technically worthless. Candidate 3 file bid books are worth something. I have a few.

They're a good insight into the whole concept and plan of a city wanting to host the Olympic Games.

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Simple: Applicant bid books are technically worthless. Candidate 3 file bid books are worth something. I have a few.

They're a good insight into the whole concept and plan of a city wanting to host the Olympic Games.

Yeah, I know you do, and fair enough, that's your thing. I can understand people getting interested in plans. Just as I can understand with being interested in logos or graphics.

I'd just say that you claim applicant files are worthless - but to me they play a far bigger part in the technical judgement and vouching of the bids than the Bid Books do now. Unless you're just talking about resale value.

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I think the race is really a contest of perception. Perception develops on many fronts simultaneously and its many origins and influences can be difficult to pin down and quantify.

I don't think the bid books probably decide anything, but I do feel it's important that the candidates go through the exercise. It forces them to consider all the details they will need to address in the event they host.

Although few probably study the books in depth, I suspect many zero in one one section or another -- particularly where the IFs are concerned.

The forethought of the the candidates, support of the IFs, the EC report (the bid book forms the basis of many of their questions) and the general flavor of the bid are all important.

I think the bid books do play a nebulous role that is impossible to quantify. They do help the candidate solidify and clarify their vision and they do contribute in some way to the overall perception that builds over the course of the race.

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I see bid books as necessary but not sufficient. A great bid book might not help much, but a poorly-made bid book can really hurt. I mean, you have to at least pretend to care. Just because many, if not most IOC members don't read bid books from cover to cover doesn't mean you can skimp out on better forward your best work. It's like a 2000 word essay application for entry to a school. Yeah, the admissions committee might only read those essays which catch their interest in the first 5 lines, but you still have to put in the work.

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I guess I'm just more into the politics of bidding than the plans.

Same here. I knew enough of Pyeongchang's bidding plans in order to fight back against the likes of Tulsa and nature, but I'm still more interested in the politics of bidding than the details of the plans themselves. As long as the end result is the same (ie. doesn't matter where and how far away a bobsled track is constructed as long as it's constructed), then I'm fine with the plans.

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Yeah, I know you do, and fair enough, that's your thing. I can understand people getting interested in plans. Just as I can understand with being interested in logos or graphics.

I'd just say that you claim applicant files are worthless - but to me they play a far bigger part in the technical judgement and vouching of the bids than the Bid Books do now. Unless you're just talking about resale value.

Resale value mostly, but they do serve their purpose. It saves the IOC and bidding city loads of money. Perhaps this refined bid file we have now is an attempt to make applicant bid files more relevant than just basic information.

One should also note the idea of "cheating" by proposing everything but the kitchen sink in your Applicant Book, only to blow the competition away with something far superior in your Candidate books, as was the case with Sochi 2014. Naturally, things can change that would make the end result of hosting and venues differ from what was proposed from the bid, but a dramatic change like Sochi's seems a little like cheating to me, even if it were just the ice and ceremonies venues moved to the proposed Olympic Park site and the venue arrangement shuffled a bit.

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Obviously not all IOC members read them all. They do help in seeing the different aspects of the city and if they are qualified. They also give us the chance to discuss the bids :lol:

That's like (or should be) one of the key aspects of being an IOC member, especially if you are a voting one. It's not too hard to do a little homework and read, you can always be forgiven if you can't read English or French, but that's really one of the prerequisites isn't it? Or to at least have some understanding of any or both of the 2 languages of the IOC.

Even if you have no say, are not directly involved or are voting, being an IOC member privy's you to your own copy of a bid book. So if there were say 7 Candidates or say 12 Applicants bidding for an Olympic edition, you'd better get reading in bed before you sleep!

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That's like (or should be) one of the key aspects of being an IOC member, especially if you are a voting one. It's not too hard to do a little homework and read, you can always be forgiven if you can't read English or French, but that's really one of the prerequisites isn't it? Or to at least have some understanding of any or both of the 2 languages of the IOC.

Even if you have no say, are not directly involved or are voting, being an IOC member privy's you to your own copy of a bid book. So if there were say 7 Candidates or say 12 Applicants bidding for an Olympic edition, you'd better get reading in bed before you sleep!

It's perhaps a nice ideal, but it's naive to think they do.

Why should most of them when, after the short list tells them all remaining cities are capable of staging them, and they're all safe bets, their main concern has probably gone on to "Great, now we've got the opportunity to go to South America at last" or "London really seem like they have their heart in it" and they've pretty well made up their minds. Is it really gonna turn their decision and help them make a better choice to know City A's volleyball venue is three kilometres closer to the OV than City B's, while City C's proposing two clusters to City D's four? If there's any real probs with the plans, the IOC reports and memos, the media and the Internet will sure make them quite clear and well known anyway.

As Athensfan said, they help set the foundation and tone of a bid, but so many other factors play out into it after that - some technical, some financial, some frippery and emotional - especially now that technical requirements and viability are dealt with and signed off so early in the game.

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I do wonder if certain chapters are read more than others overall. If I were in the IOC I'd certainly read the 'Sports and Venues' section of every bid, but I'd be inclined to gloss over a few of the drier chapters and rely on the Evaluation report's findings.

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I dont think that there are just a few IOC Members, who really read the Bid Books and compare several aspects of the Bids (venues, transport, accomodation etc.). They get every two years a bulky set of books but I they know which cities are shortlisted and decide decide rather for sentimental reasons or for policy reasons on which city they vote at the end - maybe even long before the Bid books are released.

If they do read something its rather the summaries of a Bid or the Evaluation Commission report - which also differs in its quality: In the 2016 report, all the cities were blamed by the IOC except Rio. In the 2018 report, you had to read carefully, to find some critics on several aspects of the several Bids.

But the 2008 report stated clearly that the Commission thinks that there are thre cities which could deliver a good games (Paris, Toronto and Beijing9 whcih was a catastrophy for Osaka and Istanbul.

I think it was also Dick Pound who said (I think it was in the 2004 race) that you can put the Games anywhere, because the cities have seven years time to prepare. The most more important document is the applicant file as the applicant cities have to provide a basic concept and have to present some basic facts on which they can build a more detailed bid later. Its not a masterpiece of work to present a good a Olympic Village plan or an immigartion and customs plan which fullfill the IOC requirements. The cities know what is required and they shall know how to fullfill these requirements.

Its more important for a Bid City to present its own unique vision for hosting the Games and to present itself during the Bid City which a package which suits a) to the city and B) which makes it very attractive for IOC members too vote for.

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^^ HEY! I would love the 3 file Brisbane bid book (English of course, I assume like Melbourne, they produced a separate French version). After all, I have the Melbourne and Sydney ones!

While we're at it, where's Paris 1992? I think I saw it on ebay once, would really like that too to complete the Paris set.

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One of the very important reasons for having bid books is that it forces Host Cities to do some work, and not just fritter away the time till they realize that the games are upon them. The books force cities to evaluate what they have (in the light of IF requirements and IOC requirements) and begin to lay out a plan to meet the requirements.

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