Wednesday 9 January 2013

Rotterdam 2018 Youth Olympic Bid Finally Gets Dutch Government Guarantees

The Dutch government has agreed to provide financial guarantees for the Rotterdam 2018 Youth Olympic bid under efforts to bring the event to Europe for the first time.

Dutch NOC president Andre Bolhuis tells me: "We now have the guarantees of the government. It [the decision] happened this week and we have sent the guarantees to the executive board of the IOC.

"I am happy about the situation. It's very important to the Netherlands and Rotterdam."

Rotterdam 2018 bid chiefs had submitted their bid book to the IOC in October without the necessary guarantees. Officials told the IOC they had to wait for a new coalition administration to form before talks could begin to secure full governmental support.

Discussions with the new Cabinet including sports minister Edith Schippers over recent weeks finally led to the Dutch government inking an agreement to underwrite the €75 million costs of staging the 2018 Youth Olympics.

Buenos Aires, Glasgow, Guadalajara and Medellin (Colombia) are the other candidates in the bid race.

After two summer Youth Olympics in Asia - Singapore in 2010, Nanjing in 2014 - Bolhuis says: "I hope they will bring it to Europe for the first time."

He adds: "Glasgow is an excellent candidate but Britain had the Olympic Games and now Commonwealth Games."

The IOC Executive Board is expected to cut at least one city from the field at its Feb. 12-13 meeting in Lausanne.

The IOC will elect the host of the 3rd summer Youth Olympics in July.

Thursday 3 January 2013

Pitching the Most Compelling Story: the 2020 Olympics Bid Race Goes Global

The race for the 2020 Olympics is getting serious. Bid dossiers from Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo are due with the IOC next Monday (7 Jan), the date set by president Jacques Rogge for the start of international promotion.

Nine months of hard campaigning lie ahead, with bid delegations criss-crossing continents to meet and woo IOC members and the top brass from National Olympic Committees and 28 international sports federations who will influence the 7 Sept vote in Buenos Aires.

First up, the three bids have some stories to tell, to inform the world of their best intentions. Time for the big bid book reveals. The buzz phrases will be, as always at this stage of any Olympic bid contest, "compact venue plan", "Games designed for athletes", "legacy" and "sustainability" "full government support". This is what the IOC wants to hear. There'll be some flashy venue designs too - in the case of Tokyo, a national stadium for the 2019 Rugby World Cup and 2020 Olympics if they win designed by Zaha Hadid, the architect behind London 2012's aquatics centre.

Madrid, bidding for a third consecutive time, holds a press conference in the Spanish city on 8 Jan. Istanbul, hoping it'll be fifth time lucky in its quest to secure the Olympics, has yet to announce a briefing.

But it's Tokyo, bouncing back from its 2016 failure, which could steal a march on its rivals.

The first sign of Tokyo 2020's more aggressive strategy to win the Games this time around is next week's briefing in London. Here, the softly-spoken bid president Tsunekazu Takeda, an IOC member, new Tokyo Metropolitan Governor Naoki Inose and bid CEO Masato Mizuno will launch the city's candidature file to the world's media. Several of Japan's Olympians and Paralympians will attend the presser.

It's all about the messaging, the best news angles from the bid books. By virtue of holding their presser in the British capital, Tokyo will generate plenty of global headlines next week. Crucially, it's an opportunity for journalists not already acquainted with the bid team to establish contacts for the long road to the vote at the IOC Session.

Istanbul and Madrid are also expected to hold their own briefings with international media in the coming weeks.

The communications strategy of each of the three bids will be fascinating to observe at close quarters as the international campaigns gather steam.

There'll be plenty more love-ins with international media along the way.

But the most crucial are the IOC Evaluation Commission visits in March. Led by Britain's IOC member Craig Reedie, the inspection team will first visit Tokyo (March 4-7) before trips to Madrid (March 18-21) and Istanbul (March 24-27).

I covered the IOC inspections of Madrid and Tokyo for the 2016 bid race. This is what happens: journalists are bussed around the cities following the IOC inspectors to points of interest, ie to existing venues and where new ones will be built. But they won't be allowed to get too close. Apart from the staged photo opportunities during which there's no chance for questions, the most we can expect is the odd word of encouragement to be uttered about the bid city as the IOC officials board buses in between stops on their own tours. These things kick off early, so tired smiles and waving to media is obligatory for the IOC experts as they go about the business of cramming their heads with bid city information. The reports to IOC members are based on these trips.

It's only at the conclusion of the four-day visits that journalists get the chance to ask pressing questions about the city's bid book and the IOC panel's impressions. And even then the IOC inspection chief, in this case Reedie, is guarded in dishing out praise or criticism. The art of diplomacy will be on show. Nonetheless, what he says will make good or bad headlines for Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo, perhaps giving one of them the edge in the bid battle for the Games after Rio.

Thursday 20 December 2012

BOA Names Team GB Training Camp for Rio 2016

Following UK Sport cuts in funding for some Olympic sports on the road to Rio 2016, there was some upbeat news today from the British Olympic Association to incentivise athletes bidding to participate in the first ever Games in South America.

The BOA has inked an agreement with the Minas Tenis Clube in Belo Horizonte to host the Olympic preparation camp for Team GB athletes. Belo Horizonte, the third largest city in Brazil, is also a host venue for next June's FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2014 World Cup. It's a 45-minute flight from Rio (437km).

Average July temperature in the city is 21°C

Here's the website for the MTC -

It was selected following an extensive search across Brazil and neighbouring countries for a suitable training camp. BOA chief executive Andy Hunt, director of Games services Mark England and head of sport engagement Mike Hay were at today's signing ceremony.

National Governing Bodies were closely consulted in the selection process and it is anticipated that many sports will make use of the Team GB training camp, either for training or acclimatisation, prior to the Rio 2016 Games.

The BOA says the high quality facilities at the MTC include numerous indoor sports halls and gymnasiums, the swimming pool used to host the 2008 FINA World Cup, and the ‘Lagoa dos Ingleses’ (Englishman’s Lake) that could be used for training in sports such as rowing, canoeing and triathlon.

Hunt said: “Getting your pre-Games training and preparation environment right is absolutely essential to the success of an Olympic team on foreign soil. Today’s announcement represents another major step forward in our operational planning and preparation for Team GB ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympics and a key part of our ambition to be the ‘most local non-local team’ at the 2016 Games."

Hunt said BOA chiefs were "very impressed" with the breadth of world-class sporting facilities available at the Minas Tenis Clube.

"We are confident that the MTC environment will offer the flexibility required by Team GB’s sports and we look forward to developing our relationship with President Sergio Bruno Zech Coelho and his team at the MTC as we expand and build upon our detailed planning for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games."

About Belo Horizonte
* The Independencia Stadium was the venue for England's shock 1-0 loss to the USA in the 1950 World Cup, one of the greatest upsets in the tournament's history
* The 64,000 capacity Estadio Mineirao will stage six matches at the 2014 World Cup including one semi-final
* The city is home to three professional clubs - Cruzeiro, Atletico Mineiro and América

Financial Guarantees Coming for Rotterdam 2018 Youth Olympic Bid

I understand talks are going well between and the Dutch government to secure financial guarantees necessary for the city's Youth Olympic bid.

An official announcement is due in the next few weeks.

Buenos Aires, Glasgow, Guadalajara and Colombia's Medellin are the other bids vying for the 2018 YOG. The IOC Executive Board may decide to cut one or two cities from the field at its February meeting.

The IOC will elect the host of the 3rd summer Youth Olympics in July. Nanjing, China is staging the 2014 edition. Singapore held the inaugural YOG in 2010.

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Rio Olympics - No Time to Waste

So Rio 2016 chiefs are listening to IOC concerns about the sluggish pace of preparations?

A press release dated 17 Dec talks of the organising committee’s "ambitious hiring goals" in the next seven months, going on to say that "a 60% headcount increase is expected until the end of July". There are jobs available in many areas, which are published on the official website ( Rio 2016 plans have about 4,000 employees among its staff come Games time.

Nawal El Moutawakel, the IOC's chief inspector on the Rio project, delivered the first wake-up call to the Brazilians in a speech at the IOC Session in London over the summer, warning that preparations were well off track. "Delivery deadlines are extremely tight and the overall work that has to be done is substantial," she told IOC members, adding that "very vigorous coordination" was needed to ensure Rio 2016 didn't fall any further behind schedule.

And last month the IOC used the London 2012 debrief in Rio to press home its message that there is no time to waste.

With scrutiny intensifying of preparations for the FIFA Confederations Cup in June and the World Cup a year later, the Brazilian government and Rio 2016 cannot afford to be distracted in hitting its milestones in the delivery of the Olympics.

The IOC wants Rio 2016 to step up a couple of gears. We'll find out if they've done this when the IOC coordination commission led by the Moroccan visits in a few months time.