OCA chief tentatively backs dual host city awards

 21 Feb 2017 - 20:54

AFP

Sapporo, Japan: Asia's most powerful sports official has given tentative support to the notion that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) should award the host cities for both the 2024 and 2028 Olympics later this year, an idea which appears to be gaining momentum.
The idea has not been formally proposed by the IOC, and with the 2024 host set to be decided in September, time is running out for what would be a radical change. But top-ranking Olympic officials, including the IOC President Thomas Bach, have not ruled it out.
The Olympic Council of Asia President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al Sabah, who also holds a key position on soccer's world governing body FIFA, gave his views on the subject during a press conference Tuesday at the Asian Winter Games in Japan.
Sheikh Ahmad said he could not comment on the prospects of such a change in the Olympics but it had happened with other sporting events.
"The IOC executive board have to decide and until they put it on the table we won't comment," he said.
"But as OCA president, we practised this for (the) 2022 and 2026 Asian Games. At FIFA we also practised to have two World Championships: Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022."
The spiralling cost of hosting the Olympics has seen a reduction in the number of cities bidding to host it. There are just three candidates in the running for 2024, Paris, Los Angeles and Budapest. There are growing concerns about Budapest's bid after the city mayor Istvan Tarlos announced last week that he meet Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to review the bid.
If Budapest joined Boston, Rome and Hamburg by pulling out, the IOC would be left with just Paris and Los Angeles. But because both cities presented strong cases, speculation is mounting that the IOC could give the 2024 games to one and the 2028 event to the other.
The struggle to find Olympic hosts has been an unexpected boon for Asia in recent years.
The region is set to stage the next three Olympics in succession: the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in South Korea, the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
And Sheikh Ahmad said Asia would be willing to step and host the 2026 Winter Olympics if needed, with Sapporo planning to bid.
"Asia will be ready to host the Olympic Winter Games again," he said. "If there is a lot who bid (for 2026), we will have to evaluate the situation, but if not, then we have a good chance.
"We are ready to host a third Olympic Winter Games."
The OCA president also flagged the possibility that Oceania nations including Australia could be allowed to compete in the Asian summer Games from 2022. Australia and New Zealand both accepted invitations to compete at the Asian Winter Games, but on condition they would not be allowed to win medals.