Olympic ‘host’ can now be multiple countries as IOC changes bid, election processes

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The Olympic “host” can now officially be multiple countries.

The International Olympic Committee approved bidding and host-city election reforms on Wednesday, a month after the IOC Executive Board put the measures up for approval. IOC President Thomas Bach said that an election could “come to a point where there is only one candidate being proposed.”

“This is the evolution of the Olympic Agenda 2020 revolution, as we must continue to keep up with the fast pace of change in our current world,” Bach said, referring to earlier changes to the bid process and Olympic program from 2014. “Flexibility is a necessity to ensure good governance and to have sustainable Olympic Games in the future. We will do that while maintaining the magic of the Games, the fundamental principle of universality and our commitment to having athletes at the center of everything we do.”

The definition of an Olympic host was tweaked to make it clear that it does not necessarily refer to a single city but can also mean multiple cities, regions and even countries. The 2026 Winter Games will be the first Olympics with multiple official host cities — Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo in Italy.

While Olympic competition has been held in multiple countries — notably equestrian at the 1956 Melbourne Games held in Stockholm — the official Olympic host was always one city.

“It’s not an encouragement to spread the Games out as much as possible,” Bach said in May. “It may be preferable to have a region as a signatory or an additional signatory of the host city contract rather than just a city, and therefore, we wanted to enjoy this flexibility. This, on the other hand, does not change our vision, our request and our focus on having not only an Olympic Village, but to have an Olympic center.”

Flexibility was also added to the timing of naming Olympic hosts. A section of the Olympic Charter mandating that the Games are awarded in an election seven years in advance was deleted.

Recall that two years ago, the 2024 and 2028 Olympics were awarded at the same time to Paris and Los Angeles, which were the last remaining candidates for 2024.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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