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May 21, 2014
London 2016 instead of Rio? Is it time to change the rules?

The sun sets next to the Olympic Stadium and the ArcelorMittal Orbit inside the Olympic Park before Revolution 5 at the Velodrome in the Lee Valley Velopark on March 15, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
by Gianni Merlo, AIPS President, La Gazzetta dello Sport
LAUSANNE, May 21, 2014 - I have been waiting for this news to surface:
“So worried are Olympic organisers by how far behind schedule the 2016 Rio Games has fallen, London has reportedly been asked, in secret, if it could host the event at the last minute”.

According to the London Evening Standard, an informal approach has been made by IOC chiefs to ascertain whether London's 2012 Olympic venues could be “brought back into use”.

I’m only surprised that it’s taken so long for such news to come out!

Until 2012 there was only one place where to go in case of Olympic troubles: Sydney. Do you remember the campaign to go back to Sydney before the Athens games? But now London, very successful in 2012, has buried the hopes of Sydney.....

The Standard reports: “A source told the Standard: At a comparable planning stage in 2004 Athens had done 40 per cent of preparations on infrastructure, stadiums and so on. London had done 60 per cent. Brazil has done 10 per cent - and they have just two years left.”

So the IOC is thinking: What's our plan B? Obviously, the answer would be to come back to London. It's very unlikely but it would be the logical thing to do. London has hosted the Olympics in an emergency before. In 1908 the event was due to be held in Rome, but Mount Vesuvius erupting in 1906 has forced the Italian government to cancel the games.

The Standard says London 2016 would be a "worst-case scenario".

“Many of the 2012 sites have already been converted into public use. The cost of upgrading them to competition-standard again would cost millions, not to mention that the athletes' village is now populated by private residents”.

The Evening Standard has touched a nerve. The IOC has reached a dead point with the old system of requests to the Olympic bidders. Nowadays you cannot impose a large number of facilities with crazy requirements. For this reason new IOC president Thomas Bach is pushing to make a revolution in the bidding system. He wants the bidding cities to provide an autonomous Olympic plan, one with sustainability for the future.

But then again, there’s the surprising idea raised at the end of the last Century, when somebody proposed to host the Olympics every four years in the same city --- the dream was Athens, or an other European capital.
Rio de Janeiro it is facing a lot of difficulties, but in the end I believe the Olympics will go live.

Nobody has said: Why not to go back to Germany for the 2014 World Cup. Why? Because if the field is green, the teams are there and there is good television coverage, the success will be for the billion plus viewers. The rest does not matter.

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