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Olympic Committee Promises Changes to Way Cities, Countries Are Chosen

Mayor of Milan Giuseppe Sala and members of Milan-Cortina delegation celebrate after winning the bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympic Games. (Philippe Lopez/Pool via AP)
Olympic Committee Promises Changes to Way Cities, Countries Are Chosen
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The International Olympic Committee is promising changes to how the Olympic Games are awarded.

This week, the IOC voted to give the Italian cities of Milan and Cortina the 2026 Winter Olympics.

On Wednesday, The IOC voted to reform the way host cities are chosen. The games may be hosted in several cities or countries at the same time. Host cities may be invited or they may be chosen without competition.

The International Olympic Committee wants to avoid the negative reports that often come with hosting the Olympic Games. Local people often face higher taxes and costly stadiums that are left unused when the Games are over.

The committee, which is based in Lausanne, Switzerland, has been angered by recent public votes in Europe and Canada that rejected the Olympics. Now, the IOC wants cities and countries to show public approval before asking to host the games.

“We cannot…continue to be damaged as we have in the past,” IOC member John Coates said. He presented the reforms, some of which have already been tested in the 2026 Winter Games competition.

On Monday, Milan and Cortina in northern Italy beat a joint offer by Stockholm, Sweden and Are, Latvia, for the 2026 Winter Games. Northern Italy’s population showed strong support for the Games, IOC studies showed.

Future Olympic cities will be required to use existing and temporary sports venues. Costly building projects will not be encouraged.

The Olympic Charter rule requiring hosts to be voted on seven years before a Summer or Winter Games will end. That rule was ignored in 2017 when Los Angeles was chosen 11 years before the 2028 Summer Games.

In fact, elections may be canceled.

The new process will create Olympic panels — one each for Summer and Winter Games — that will choose one or more countries. If there is more than one country, an election will be held.

IOC President Thomas Bach wants to avoid “too many losers.”

The new panels will have the power to have ongoing discussions with cities and may even request some cities to consider hosting an Olympics. The panels will report to the executive board, which will pick its members.

Coates said the process will create a list of potential cities that will extend into the future.

The IOC said it will not make the process difficult, and will not demand legal guarantees long before the Games, said Richard Pound. He is the longest serving member of the IOC.

But he added, “Once you make a decision on the host city, millions of people start to make plans based on that and hundreds of millions of dollars are committed to it.”

The IOC’s reforms started after Bach’s election in September 2013. They also follow the situation in which Russia spent $51 billion on venues, and extra costs for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

In another decision Wednesday, the IOC chose Athens to host its 2021 meeting from June 24-26. It will include a presidential election with Bach expected to get a final four-year term without opposition.

I’m Jonathan Evans.

The Associated Press reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.

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Words in This Story

host – n. A place or organization that plays host to an event (such as a meeting or convention) provides the things that are needed for that event.

negative – adj. thinking about the bad qualities of someone or something :

stadium – n. a very large usually roofless building that has a large open area surrounded by many rows of seats and that is used for sports event

venue – n. the place where an event takes place

encourage – v. to make (something) more appealing or more likely to happen

panel – n. a group of people with special knowledge, skill, or experience who give advice or make decisions