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Agenda 2020: where the Olympic movement goes next

5 December 2014 | Posted in Magazine Features | By David Cushnan | Contact the author

Agenda 2020: where the Olympic movement goes next

The International Olympic Committee meets on Monday and Tuesday for what some are calling a once-in-a-generation meeting to debate changes to the Olympic movement, steered by president Thomas Bach’s Agenda 2020 strategic roadmap. With the help of a number of senior figures from across the Olympic movement, SportsPro examines three of the big questions the IOC will attempt to answer in Monte Carlo.

Even before Thomas Bach’s dominant victory in last year’s International Olympic Committee (IOC) presidential election, the German was setting out his vision for a strategic review designed to examine all aspects of the Olympic movement – from the bid process to the composition of the sports programme, from good governance and sustainability to new media platforms and how to engage the youth of the world.

During his election campaign Bach talked of the IOC president as a conductor of an orchestra, facilitating discussion, debate and progress across the Olympic movement. Within a matter of weeks of his victory in Buenos Aires in September 2013, it was clear he was bringing a new energy and greater dialogue to an organisation somewhat set in its ways, instilling a mood for change in the process. The result is Agenda 2020, a wide-ranging series of recommendations which the IOC’s entire membership will discuss and vote on in Monaco on Monday and Tuesday.

“The way he has opened up a debate is to be wholeheartedly applauded,” says Michael Payne, the former IOC marketing director, of Bach. “Within a year he is showing a very, very different style to his presidency from [Jacques] Rogge in the way that Rogge showed a very different style from Samaranch.”

On the Agenda: topics under discussion

- Bidding Procedure
- Sustainability and Legacy
- Differentiation of the Olympic Games
- Procedure for the Composition of the Olympic Programme
- Olympic Games Management
- Protecting Clean Athletes
- Olympic TV Channel
- Olympism in Action Including Youth Strategy
- Youth Olympic Games
- Culture Policy
- Good Governance and Autonomy
- Ethics
- Strategic Review of Sponsorship, Licensing and Merchandising
- IOC Membership

By the IOC’s usually cautious standards, the wide-ranging nature of the debate has been as surprising as the pace of change. At February’s IOC Session in Sochi, there were an unprecedented 211 interventions from IOC members on the future of the Olympic movement as Bach’s Agenda 2020 plan gathered pace. By May, 14 working groups had been established, featuring a mixture of IOC members and officials, other stakeholders and the odd expert from further afield. The working groups met in June and by October their findings reached the IOC’s executive board, which has agreed on the package of 40 recommendations to be presented at the IOC Extraordinary Session in Monte Carlo.

“It’s such a 360 [degree] review of all our operations, all our basic strategies,” confirmed IOC executive board member Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr, speaking in September. “It requires a lot of guidance and a lot of organising the process. We are working very hard in making sure that all this very complicated situation boils down to concrete measures to be applied immediately. That’s the name of the game: analyse, decide and have executable decisions.”

Payne, now a consultant and a keen observer of all matters Olympic, adds only the slightest note of caution. “I think you have to be careful on expectation management as to what sort of results you’re expecting in December,” he says. “As always with changes of this nature, the impact may not always be fully apparent – when the changes are made some will be very clear, others may take a little bit of time and you will only look back two or three years from now or more and realise quite how important or symbolic those changes were.

“Bach is one year into his presidency and he’s clearly hit the ground running,” Payne adds, “but there’s no indication he’s going to stop any time soon. This is one key step along a journey that I think is going to continue to evolve and transform over the next decade.”

Key questions:

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