The Power Game: Thomas Bach’s Iron Grip at the Olympics


The magnitude of the IOC’s influence and the singular authority of its president are fairly recent phenomena. Other presidents led the organization to their personal whims, as Bach does today, but none pull the strings of an institution as tremendously as the contemporary version, and none operate in a field as complex as the modern sporting landscape.

Until the late 1990s, the IOC maintained a largely back-seat role in the running of the Olympics, after local organizing committees chose a host city to allow them to run the Games. This attitude changed after the 1996 Atlanta Games, which was so close to disaster with transportation disruptions, technical glitches and security breaches, and the IOC determined it needed a more hands-on approach to prevent further disorder.

In contrast, the staff of the IOC at its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland has grown from a few dozen in the 1980s to around 100 in the 90s to about 600 today. This growth, in turn, has reduced the role of the membership of the IOC, a group of 102 sports officials from around the world that took on many of the specific tasks once undertaken by seasoned professionals in Lausanne.

The most damaging blow to the power of membership in recent times came as Bach took on his ultimate responsibility: to vote for host cities. The process has traditionally bribery and corruption. More recently, the IOC’s struggled to attract Among the rapidly increasing cost concerns, they are suitable candidates.

Bach solved these problems simply by changing the rules. indefinitely in 2017 changed the old bidding processgranting hosting rights for two Games at the same time. While the 2024 Games were awarded to Paris, Los Angeles, which was also competing for these Games, was persuaded to sign for 2028. Two years later, Bach scrapped the old tender protocol entirely, running the process largely behind closed doors. (Brisbane, Australia, appeared recently. Best candidate for the 2032 Summer Games) may be selected despite questions about transparency and potential conflicts of interest.

“Sometimes you just have to make decisions, and sometimes it can seem autocratic and sometimes it can seem like you’re doing it in a bit of haste, and the reality of that is actually both are probably true and sometimes both are necessary,” said World Athletics president, international athletics governing body, and an IOC Member of Sebastian Coe.


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