IOC approves changes to Olympic bidding process, sports program

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The International Olympic Committee unanimously approved 40 changes to the Olympic bid process and sports program Monday, as part of what the IOC president called Agenda 2020, “a strategic roadmap for the future.”

“This Olympic Agenda 2020 is like a jigsaw puzzle,” IOC president Thomas Bach told IOC members in Monaco. “Now, after you have approved all these 40 individual recommendations, you can see the whole picture of this jigsaw puzzle. You can see the picture of progress, the picture of progress in ensuring the uniqueness of the Olympic Games.”

The next step will be full implementation of the 40 recommendations over the coming months.

The 40 recommendations are officially laid out here.

In bidding, the IOC accepted reduced costs for bid cities, assisting cities considering bids before the bid process starts and allowing bids from multiple cities or countries (which is already allowed in the Winter Games) in exceptional cases.

In the Olympic program, the IOC is shifting focus from a set number of sports approved seven years in advance to a set number of events across all sports. A host city can propose adding a sport for its Games. This could open the door for baseball and softball to be added for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The IOC also urged more mixed-gender events. The Sochi Winter Games included mixed relays in biathlon and luge and a figure skating team event for the first time. Swimming’s international governing body already approved mixed relays in non-Olympic competitions. Bobsled’s international governing body made four-man bobsled gender neutral starting this season.

Also, an Olympic channel was approved. It will start as a digital network when it launches.

The U.S. Olympic Committee has said it will determine if it will bid for the 2024 Olympics after this IOC session. If the USOC bids, it will choose one city from Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

Here’s the list of 40 recommendations (with highlights indented):

  • 1. Shape the bidding process as an invitation
    • The IOC wishes to assist and advise cities considering bids about bid procedures, core Games requirements and how previous cities have ensured positive legacies.
    • The IOC will allow events held outside the host city or, in exceptional cases, outside the host country, notably for reasons of geography and sustainability.
  • 2. Evaluate bid cities by assessing key opportunities and risks
  • 3. Reduce the cost of bidding
    • The IOC wishes to bear more travel costs during the bidding process and create a register of consultants/lobbyists to work for bid cities.
  • 4. Include sustainability in all aspects of the Olympic Games
  • 5. Include sustainability within the Olympic Movement’s daily operations
  • 6. Cooperate closely with other sports event organizers
  • 7. Strengthen relationships with organizations managing sport for people
    with different abilities
  • 8. Forge relationships with professional leagues
  • 9. Set a framework for the Olympic program
    • Limit the Summer Olympics to approximately 10,500 athletes and 310 events. London 2012 had 10,568 athletes in 302 events; Rio 2016 will have 306 events.
    • Limit the Winter Olympics to approximately 2,900 athletes and 100 events. Sochi 2014 reportedly had fewer than 2,900 athletes in 98 events.
  • 10. Move from a sport-based to an event-based program
  • 11. Foster gender equality
    • Encourage more mixed-gender team events.
  • 12. Reduce the cost and reinforce the flexibility of Olympic Games management
  • 13. Maximize synergies with Olympic Movement stakeholders
  • 14. Strengthen the 6th Fundamental Principle of Olympism
    • Include non-discrimination on sexual orientation in the Olympic Charter. The principles currently include text against discrimination based on race, religion, politics and gender.
  • 15. Change the philosophy to protecting clean athletes
  • 16. Leverage the IOC $20 million fund to protect clean athletes
  • 17. Honor clean athletes
  • 18. Strengthen support to athletes
  • 19. Launch an Olympic channel
  • 20. Enter into strategic partnerships
  • 21. Strengthen IOC advocacy capacity
  • 22. Spread Olympic values-based education
  • 23. Engage with communities
  • 24. Evaluate the Sport for Hope program
  • 25. Review Youth Olympic Games positioning
    • Move the Youth Olympics to non-Olympic years starting in 2023.
  • 26. Further blend sport and culture
  • 27. Comply with basic principles of good governance
  • 28. Support autonomy
  • 29. Increase transparency
  • 30. Strengthen the IOC Ethics Commission independence
  • 31. Ensure compliance
  • 32. Strengthen ethics
  • 33. Further involve sponsors in “Olympism in Action” programs
  • 34. Develop a global licensing program
  • 35. Foster Olympic partner sponsors’ engagement with National Olympic Committees
  • 36. Extend access to the Olympic brand for non-commercial use
  • 37. Address IOC membership age limit
  • 38. Implement a targeted recruitment process
  • 39. Foster dialogue with society and within the Olympic Movement
  • 40. Review scope and composition of IOC commissions

Ehsan Hadadi, Iran’s first Olympic track and field medalist, has coronavirus

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Ehsan Hadadi, Iran’s lone Olympic track and field medalist, tested positive for the coronavirus, according to World Athletics and an Iranian news agency.

“We’ve received word from several Asian journalists that Iranian discus thrower Ehsan Hadadi has tested positive for coronavirus,” according to World Athletics. “[Hadadi] trains part of the year in the US, but was home in Tehran when he contracted the virus.”

Hadadi, 35, became the first Iranian to earn an Olympic track and field medal when he took silver in the discus at the 2012 London Games. Hadadi led through four of six rounds before being overtaken by German Robert Harting, who edged the Iranian by three and a half inches.

He was eliminated in qualifying at the Rio Olympics and placed seventh at last fall’s world championships in Doha.

Jordan Larson preps for her last Olympics, one year later than expected

Jordan Larson
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Whether the Tokyo Olympics would have been this summer or in 2021, Jordan Larson knew this: It will mark her final tournament with the U.S. volleyball team, should she make the roster.

“I’m just not getting any younger,” said Larson, a 33-year-old outside hitter. “I’ve been playing consistently overseas for 12 years straight with no real offseason.

“I also have other endeavors in my life that I want to see. Getting married, having children, those kinds of things. The older I get, the more challenging those become.”

Larson, who debuted on the national team in 2009, has been a leader the last two Olympic cycles. She succeeded Christa Harmotto Dietzen as captain after the Rio Games. Larson started every match at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

As long as Larson was in the building, the U.S. never had to worry about the outside hitter position, said two-time Olympian and NBC Olympics volleyball analyst Kevin Barnett.

“She played as if she belonged from the start,” he said. “They will miss her all-around capability. They’ll miss her ability to make everyone around her better. She’s almost like having a libero who can hit.”

Karch Kiraly, the Olympic indoor and beach champion who took over as head coach after the 2012 Olympics, gushed about her court vision.

“It’s a little dated now, but somebody like Wayne Gretzky just saw things that other people didn’t see on the hockey rink,” Kiraly said in 2018. “And I remember reading about him one time, and the quote from an opposing goalie was, oh my god, here he comes, what does he see that I don’t see right now? She sees things sooner than most people.”

Larson grew up in Hooper, Neb., (population 830) and starred at the University of Nebraska. She was a three-time All-American who helped the team win a national title as a sophomore. She had the opportunity to leave Nebraska and try out for the Olympics in 2008 but chose to remain at school for her final season.

She earned the nickname “Governor” as a Cornhusker State sports icon.

Larson helped the U.S. win its first major international title at the 2014 World Championship. She was also part of the program’s two stingers — defeats in the 2012 Olympic final and 2016 Olympic semifinals, both matches where the U.S. won the first set (and convincingly in 2012).

“It just gives me chills thinking about it now,” Larson said of the Rio Olympic semifinals, where Serbia beat the U.S. 15-13 in the fifth. “That team, we put in so much. Not just on the court but off the court working on culture and working on how are we best for each other. How can we be the best team? How can we out-team people? Certain teams have a better one player that’s a standout that we maybe didn’t have or don’t have. So how can we out-team the other teams? We had just put in so much work that was just heartbreaking.”

Larson and the Americans rebounded to win the bronze-medal match two days later.

“I don’t know anybody that didn’t have their heart ripped out. It was just a soul-crusher of a match,” Kiraly said of the semifinal. “More meaningful was what a great response everybody, including Jordan, mounted to the disappointment of that loss.”

The U.S. took fifth at worlds in 2018 and is now ranked second in the world behind China.

Larson spent the past club season in Shanghai. The campaign ended in mid-January. She hadn’t heard anything about the coronavirus when she took her scheduled flight back to California, learning days later that LAX started screening for it. Now, she’s working out from her garage.

Larson is in line to become the fifth-oldest U.S. Olympic women’s volleyball player in history, according Olympedia and the OlyMADMen.

Her decade of experience could go a long way to help the next generation of outside hitters, led by three-time NCAA champion and Sullivan Award winner Kathryn Plummer.

“If you’re coming into the USA program as an outside hitter, in the next year or the quad or the quad after that,” Barnett said, “the measuring stick is going to be Jordan Larson.”

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