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Olympic bid decisions - the good, the bad... the fails.


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Actually, the Melbourne bid committee chief always blamed the Sydney-based IOC member at the time for the loss:

February 23, 2006

THE veteran Olympic chief accused of sabotaging Melbourne's 1996 Olympics bid has been told he is not welcome at the Commonwealth Games.

In a spectacular snub, International Olympic Committee delegate Phil Coles has been denied accreditation by Games organisers.

Sources say the move is payback for Mr Cole's alleged role in denying Melbourne the chance to again host the world's biggest event.

The decision is believed to have angered the most powerful man in world sport, IOC president Jacques Rogge.

The Daily Telegraph understands Mr Rogge is now reconsidering plans to attend the opening ceremony on March 15.




"This has all the hallmarks of an international incident," a Commonwealth Games source said.

Mr Coles, one of three Australian IOC members, was accused of secretly working against the 1996 Melbourne bid.

Telephone records produced at the time revealed he made 44 private phone calls from his Sydney home to members of the Atlanta organising committee during its successful campaign to win the 1996 Games.

Members of the Melbourne bid committee, which included Melbourne Commonwealth Games chairman Ron Walker, have never forgiven him.

The Daily Telegraph has learned the Commonwealth Games Federation in London is attempting to overturn the ban but is unable to intervene because CGF regulations give the final say on accreditations to the host city.

"There are severe cracks appearing between M2006 and the Commonwealth Games Federation over this," the source said.

Applications by Mr Coles' fellow Australian IOC members Kevan Gosper and John Coates to attend the Commonwealth Games have been approved.

Mr Walker, who is in London finalising preparations for the Games, refused last night to comment on the Coles decision. "I won't be commenting on that at all," he said.

But Mr Coles – in Turin for the Winter Olympics – confirmed he had been told to stay away.

He said he did not know the reason for the decision but suspected Ron Walker was behind it.

"That's what I'm told who it is, yes," Mr Coles said last night.

Asked if it was linked to allegations about the 1996 Olympic bid, he said: "It may well be, yeah . . . who knows." Mr Coles said he was very disappointed.

"But we've got a job to do here (Turin) and when it's over we'll wait and see what happens," he said.


Mr Coles, 74 still has carbon copies of his IOC vote on the 1996 Games which showed he supported Melbourne.

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No. Atlanta won because it had the soundest plan of all the '96 bidders and had most venues in place already.

I disagree, the soundest plan of all the 1996 bidders was Melbourne, easily. I'd even go as far as saying on a practical level, Melbourne's 1996 bid was more reasonable, compact and workable than Sydney's bid in its earlier stages (the task of Homebush Bay was far more daunting than any refurbishment of Melbourne Olympic Park- right in the core of the city).

Actually, the Melbourne bid committee chief always blamed the Sydney-based IOC member at the time for the loss:

I have no doubt that from behind the scenes the Sydney crew were working against Melbourne - but its fair game. At the end of the day in the late 1980's Melbourne wasn't the booming and prosperous city it is today, it was simply too soon after 1956, and too much a second city to Sydney. I couldn't exactly see the Spanish Olympic Committee shying away from putting Madrid forward for 2020 in favour of Barcelona - which makes it even more surprising that the AOC didn't just go with Sydney from 1992 onwards.

Hindsight is 20/20, but we really did have our weaker cities (Brisbane and Melbourne) in the more challenging races. I don't even think Sydney would have won 1992 or 1996.

I'm glad everything worked out the way it did. Sydney did well out of 2000, and in a way Melbourne did too. The city is completely unrecognisable from the place it was in 1996 or 1990, let alone 1956.

Edited by runningrings
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I disagree, the soundest plan of all the 1996 bidders was Melbourne, easily. I'd even go as far as saying on a practical level, Melbourne's 1996 bid was more reasonable, compact and workable than Sydney's bid in its earlier stages (the task of Homebush Bay was far more daunting than any refurbishment of Melbourne Olympic Park- right in the core of the city).

I have no doubt that from behind the scenes the Sydney crew were working against Melbourne - but its fair game. At the end of the day in the late 1980's Melbourne wasn't the booming and prosperous city it is today, it was simply too soon after 1956, and too much a second city to Sydney. I couldn't exactly see the Spanish Olympic Committee shying away from putting Madrid forward for 2020 in favour of Barcelona - which makes it even more surprising that the AOC didn't just go with Sydney from 1992 onwards.

Hindsight is 20/20, but we really did have our weaker cities (Brisbane and Melbourne) in the more challenging races. I don't even think Sydney would have won 1992 or 1996.

I'm glad everything worked out the way it did. Sydney did well out of 2000, and in a way Melbourne did too. The city is completely unrecognisable from the place it was in 1996 or 1990, let alone 1956.

Hmmm. I don't know if I could actually believe that anybody in Australian Olympic circles would have actively worked to sabotage the 1996 bid. Privately, many might have thought it was stupid not to go with Sydney, but to actually work against it? No, I think at the end of the day the AOC and our Olympic community did all they could to support it. As Phil Coles said at the time – he's an IOC member, of course he was in contact with his colleagues all over, including the US.

At the end of the day, I think so much of it was Ron Walker's disappointment and paranoia. It's both an advantage, and a negative, that he's always been such a fervent, one-eyed supporter and promoter of Melbourne.

As to Melbourne's preparedeness for '96. Well, this was the decade where Melbourne really transformed itself. It was when it got Crown Casino and Southbank, the Convention and Exhibition Centre (and hence the beginnings of the Docklands redevelopment), the MCG's Great Southern Stand. It was a great transforming time for the city from the rust bucket basket case of the late-80s to the vital and cosmopolitan city it has become. And that legacy is still so strong – every time I go to Melbourne (I was just there last week), I just look at the view from the city to the MCG, the rectangular stadium, the Rod Laver arena and see a true Olympic city in waiting – and one of the few that could still present a games so close and compact to its downtown CBD. If sporting facilities and ambience ruled host decisions, it would surely host soon. Such a pity timing and proximity to 2000 would be an almost insurmountable obstacle to it doing so for a good few decades to go now.

Edited by Sir Rols
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I disagree, the soundest plan of all the 1996 bidders was Melbourne, easily.

yeah...yeah. We NEVER AGREE on anything anyway. I am east; you are west. I am north; you are south. I believe YOU ARE wrong, as always. Let's stay out of each other's way then. Don't respond to my posts...and I'll also ignore yours. Capisce? :angry:

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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Well, Melbourne not only had the previous hosting snag against it, but it also wasn't a favorite by some of the members due to its remoteness from Europe & the Americas'. It was such that the Melbourne 1996 committee said that it would help pay for travel expenses for some of the NOC's. Yet one member even said to that: "you can't pay for all those hours on a plane, though". Seems ironic considering where the 2000 Games wound up, but that was the notion against Melbourne at the time.

And Athens not only had the "not ready" issue to deal with, but they were extremely arrogant with their campaign. Virtually demanding that the Centennial Games be handed over to them as a "historical right". Surely that turned some members off.

And Atlanta did get the highest praise from the IOC Evaluation Commission, particularly on infrastructure. So it just had many things going for it in a field that had so many things not working for them. The Georgian Capital was just at the right place at the right time.

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And maybe the IOC'ers, especially the Int'l Equestrian Federation, wasn't quite ready to forgive Melbourne and Australia the slight of the 1956 mishap?? Remember, they wouldn't let the horses of European nobility and aristocracy into Oz in 1956??

Cue runnings to come up with his usual contradictory statement... :rolleyes:

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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The good people of Leipzig learn that the IOC hasn't given them the Bachelor's Rose.

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I have to admit, if I'm ever to YouTube footage of a city waiting for the decision on the fate of its Olympic bid, I'm often a sucker for misery, I love footage of the disappointment, the false hope, the tears.

The all time best would have to be Chicago's elimination in the 2016 bid - it went truly viral and overshadowed the actual win of Rio. I've even seen it appear on FailBlog video reels, wedged between footage of car, skateboard and wedding accidents. Paris losing to London was also quite stunning.

Any good footage or particular occasions anyone can remember?

The ones that stand out for me personally were Manchester's losing bid for the 2000 Games and, of course, London's successful one for 2012!

I was present in Albert Square in the centre of Manchester for the announcement of the 2000 host. The live feed came from Monte Carlo on a giant screen. We all held our breath as Samaranch opened the envelope. It was not really a surprise when he announced 'Sydney' but we all let out a collective groan of disappointment anyhow. We had kind of hoped against hope. I do remember one of the stars of our local soap, Coronation Street, sobbing against somebody's shoulder! :)

The announcement for 2012 I watched on TV. I was convinced that Paris would win but hoped that London would make a strong finish in the voting. When I switched on to the live feed from Singapore, I was just in time to hear that it had come down to Paris and London so my hopes that London would make a strong showing were at least fulfilled and I was already satisfied with that. When Rogge finally opened the envelope after what seemed like an eternity and announced 'London' I was absolutely gobsmacked. I think I still am. My first thought was 'Oh my God, how awful this is for Paris' given that this was the 3rd time in succession that Paris had failed with its bid and most of us thought that the IOC would never dare to deny it a third time! While I was caught up in the excitement for London, I did feel sad for the Parisians. One man's gain is another man's pain!.

It was London's surprise success that got me interested in how Olympic bids are decided and finally led me to this forum. The rest, as they say, is history! ;)

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Another bad decision from the IOC was the election of Denver.

I wouldn't blame the IOC for that. They had the best intentions. But they didn't have the mechanisms now in place to prevent a repeat of that. It was the ungrateful, NIMBY citizenry of Denver that created that regrettable chapter in Olympic bidding history. And cities like that should be banned from bidding for 50 years again--just to make it official.

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The ones that stand out for me personally were Manchester's losing bid for the 2000 Games.

I was present in Albert Square in the centre of Manchester for the announcement of the 2000 host. The live feed came from Monte Carlo on a giant screen. We all held our breath as Samaranch opened the envelope. It was not really a surprise when he announced 'Sydney' but we all let out a collective groan of disappointment anyhow.

Manchester had already been eliminated by the time Samaranch even opened the envelope. So you guys should've already known that Manchester had lost, or did they not announce who was eliminated after each round back then.

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Manchester had already been eliminated by the time Samaranch even opened the envelope. So you guys should've already known that Manchester had lost, or did they not announce who was eliminated after each round back then.

Evidently they didn't announce the outcome of each ballot back then because we were all waiting on Samaranch's announcement.

Edited by Mainad
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Nagoya's actually Japan's 3rd largest urban area. It's very capable of pulling off the Games, plus there's also big corporations, like Toyota, headquatered nearby. It's more comparable in urban size to many 2nd-tier U.S. metro areas.

Nagoya actually had a decent shot for 1988, since they were only competing against Seoul. Lille & Leipzig, OTOH, were competing in a field which had too many heavyweights, TBW. Plus, those areas are still much smaller than Nagoya's. The Japanese equivalent to those are more like Hiroshima & Fukuoka. Hiroshima wanted to be the Japanese bid these last two attempts. Needless to say, the JOC wisely chose the obvious contender of Tokyo.

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yeah...yeah. We NEVER AGREE on anything anyway. I am east; you are west. I am north; you are south. I believe YOU ARE wrong, as always. Let's stay out of each other's way then. Don't respond to my posts...and I'll also ignore yours. Capisce? :angry:

How do you expect me to respond to such a comment in reaction to my own?

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And maybe the IOC'ers, especially the Int'l Equestrian Federation, wasn't quite ready to forgive Melbourne and Australia the slight of the 1956 mishap?? Remember, they wouldn't let the horses of European nobility and aristocracy into Oz in 1956??

Cue runnings to come up with his usual contradictory statement... :rolleyes:

Well, if you make comments containing sweeping generalisations and are open to contradiction (that are also explicitly directed at me) - what do you really expect? You can't rationally begrudge someone for using their right of reply? This is a two-way discussion board, to a one-way thesis.

The 1956 equestrian incident, while inconvenient, is completely understandable as an island nation. Australia has one of the most fragile eco-systems in the world, and back then we were heavily dependent on our disease free livestock. Come 2000, technology improved things, and equestrian went ahead in Australia, as they would have if we had hosted 1992 or 1996. Further, Melbourne is certainly not the first Olympics to veer offtrack after the bid was won (and I do believe the 1949 bid didn't actually have an exact answer for the equestrian question), and in a similar manner, Beijing staged its equestrian events in the isolation of Hong Kong.

I doubt the *Stockholm* incident would impact any distant (very distant) serious Australian (or Melbourne) Olympic bid. It wasn't an issue for Sydney, so in another 30 years it will be truly ancient history.

Edited by runningrings
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Beijing staged its equestrian events in the isolation of Hong Kong.

But it's the same country and w/in the same time period...and even the same time zone. How can you compare? If anything, it was also because HKG had a more cosmopolitan crowd that seemed to appreciate the Equestrian events more than peasants and worker bees of the rest of China. Totally way different from what Oz caused in 1956.

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But it's the same country and w/in the same time period...and even the same time zone. How can you compare? If anything, it was also because HKG had a more cosmopolitan crowd that seemed to appreciate the Equestrian events more than peasants and worker bees of the rest of China. Totally way different from what Oz caused in 1956.

"In 1956" being the operative part of this comment. Due to stringent requirements of FEDERAL REGULATION (which covers ALL Australian states, not just Victoria) the same would have happened to any Australian city hosting 1956. So as it was a federal issue, if there was anytime that it would have come back to bite Australia - it could have just as well been 2000, but the outcome proved it an irrelevant issue by then.

I agree, it would have no doubt been frustrating for the IOC and Equestrian body, however there was never a guarantee to stage it from 1949, and the IOC were given plenty of time to arrange a contingency plan and arrange for the event in Stockholm (which would have worked out more convenient for the Euro-centric sport).

The core point here is that it would impact a future Australian bid, I highly doubt it would - Sydney being the explicit example.

Edited by runningrings
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"In 1956" being the operative part of this comment. Due to stringent requirements of FEDERAL REGULATION (which covers ALL Australian states, not just Victoria) the same would have happened to any Australian city hosting 1956. So as it was a federal issue, if there was anytime that it would have come back to bite Australia - it could have just as well been 2000, but the outcome proved it an irrelevant issue by then.

I agree, it would have no doubt been frustrating for the IOC and Equestrian body, however there was never a guarantee to stage it from 1949, and the IOC were given plenty of time to arrange a contingency plan and arrange for the event in Stockholm (which would have worked out more convenient for the Euro-centric sport).

The core point here is that it would impact a future Australian bid, I highly doubt it would - Sydney being the explicit example.

I understand the whole passage of time issue. But remember, the IOC is a band of octagenarians and centennairans who NEVER ever die. So I am sure the numbers of the remaining ones who might've remembered probably was still decisive enuf to sway a lot of votes in 1990 AWAY Melbourne's way because of the big inconvenience caused by the intransigent quarantine laws in '56. I am sure if the issue came out at the 1949 balloting, Melbourne might NOT have even gotten 1956. You have to thank the neo-Nazi Avery Brundage for casting the winning vote for Oz over, ironically, the post-war haven of the true Nazis, Buenos Aires, which will come into the picture again in 3 mos. Ironic, isn't it? (I am sure if the American Nazi Party had their hqtrs in Detroit in the 50s and 60s, Brundage might've pulled a Samaranch for his hometown. LOL j/kidding on that point.)

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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Well, we can never know how much it may or may not have impacted upon Melbourne's chances for 1996 - but it seems like the city went wrong somewhere in the piece, placing 4th, but I don't think the equestrian situation from 1956 was the reason, I think it was more the issue of the underestimation of Atlanta, bidding against Athens, and the looming shadow of Sydney.

I was living in Melbourne at the time (1990), but too young to remember, so I don't really have a feel for the bid. Sydney at that time proved too much a sexy and irresistible alternative option for the IOC. Everyone knew in 1990 that Australia would kick on with a third bid for 2000, likely with Sydney, so this would have weighed heavily in the votes too. I think the relationship between the Melbourne 1996 bid and the Sydney 2000 bid is similar in many ways between Toronto's 2008 bid and Vancouver's successful 2010 bid off its shoulders.

As for our disagreement over the actual bids of 1996, and their technical merits, I wasn't actually aware any thorough technical evaluation occurred back then to place Atlanta ahead of any other bids. I find it difficult to believe (or for better words "understand how") Atlanta could place above Melbourne and Toronto in areas like infrastructure. Melbourne, for instance, has (and had in 1990) one of the most expansive transit networks in the "new world", and its many of its proposed venues were existing, or under construction by 1990. As Sir Rols pointed out, Melbourne's venue cluster was (and would be in any future bid) right the heart of the downtown area - moreso than Atlanta, or even the two most recent Toronto bids. The legacy of the 1956 Olympics and Australian Open was built upon further for the 2006 Commonwealth Games and the addition of a new Football Stadium near the MCG. It is truly one of the best sports precincts in the world - only a 10 minute walk from the bustle of the city centre.

280412-MOP-Precinct-400.jpg

Edited by runningrings
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Winning difference in the 1996 entrants: Atlanta had a major black face in its bid team, the charismatic Andy Young. Neither Athens, Melbourne or Toronto had a major face of color on their teams. And the IOC likes to go to new places. So Tokyo would be a 'been there, done-that' candidate.

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Winning difference in the 1996 entrants: Atlanta had a major black face in its bid team, the charismatic Andy Young. Neither Athens, Melbourne or Toronto had a major face of color on their teams. And the IOC likes to go to new places. So Tokyo would be a 'been there, done-that' candidate.

You mean, ethnic colour? I know Atlanta had a major "alternative Africa" argument that drew heavily on the civil rights movement - which is indeed compelling. However Athens, Melbourne and Toronto simply don't have that type of history to draw on. However, interestingly, the Melbourne 1996 bid had a young Cathy Freeman speak at its final presentation in Tokyo in 1990. Little did poor Ron Walker (head of the 1996 bid) know that she would go on to light the cauldron in nemesis Sydney 10 years later.

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Well, the thing is, I'm sure the 1956 Equestrian scenario wasn't the primary reason for Melbourne's 1996 rejection, if it even registered at all. Melbourne's previous hosting, & like I mentioned earlier, the great distance to Melbourne from the rest of the world as addressed by some of the members were other factors that most likely took their tolls in some votes.

And while Atlanta did have to build some more sporting venues than Melbourne, the ones that they did have were deemed of quality. And as far as other infrastructure, Atlanta had that in its favor, with many quality hotel rooms & even back then Hartsfield international was one of the worlds busiest, handling almost twice as much more passenger traffic than even Pearson does today. Not to mention that Hartsfield had also just gotten the new MARTA station linking the airport to downtown (even Pearson doesn't have that today, although I know it's in the works. But 27 years ago, that was a big advantage), & Hartsfield was also on its way to building a new, large, state-of-the-art international concourse.

All of that, together with all of corporate headquarters in Atlanta, like CNN, Coca-Cola, Home Depot & Delta airlines, I could see why Atlanta was rated the highest in the evaluation compared to its competition.

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