How 2020 Bidding Cities Can Impress the IOC – Sir Craig Reedie
By iSportconnect | February 28, 2013
iSportconnect sat down with Sir Craig Reedie, International Olympic Committee (IOC) vice-president and head of the 2020 Evaluation Commission to exclusively hear what the IOC looks for in a host city, the lessons that can be learned from London 2012 and the importance of a post-Games legacy.
What does the IOC look for in a bidding city and what criteria do they use?
If the London Olympic Games proved anything, it proved that if you deliver first-class facilities and a first-class Olympic Village, you end up with happy athletes and if you’ve got happy athletes in good conditions, you’ll get great sport. The basic requirement for any bidding city coming to run an Olympic Games is to have a sports lay-out, policy and set-up that will be good for the athletes.
There’s then a whole range of other criteria; finance, security, accommodation, legacy and transport have all got to be right. We would also want Games to be sustainable, but the prime and the first criteria is to make sure that the athletes of the world can come, be happy and be involved in their sports in the best possible conditions.
How will your experience of campaigning for London 2012 help you evaluate the 2020 bids?
The London experience was helpful because I could see how London put together a very compact bidding plan, which was good for the athletes, but I did the evaluation commission for the Games in Athens and Beijing so I know how this process works, and if you know how it works I hope you can do it better next time.
Has a new benchmark for future games been set by the success of London 2012?
London got the big things right – the sport, the venues and the crowds were terrific. We sold 11 million tickets for the Olympics and Paralympics, and that’s almost unheard of in Olympic history, and that presents a target for 2016 in Rio. If you get a good venue and it’s absolutely stuffed full of knowledgeable, enthusiastic supporters and fans then the chances are you get great sport.
The other bits were good – London’s transport worked, the village was excellent and convenient to the main events – so the Games became a very considerable success.
Interestingly enough, in London’s case, the ticket income was important to us. It was about 26% of our total revenue target, so we had to sell tickets, but the good side of it was we made our revenue targets and produced this marvellous atmosphere. British spectators are sports people and they cheered everybody. They’re obviously happiest when a Brit won a gold medal, but they were particularly happy when they saw good sports.
Rio was obviously chosen for different reasons to London. Will the culture of the city play a big part in your final decision for 2020?
Yes, I think it does inevitably. London came bidding when they knew that the 2008 Games were in Beijing, so clearly we had to present a different cultural view to the IOC. Our cultural view was we are a multi-racial, cosmopolitan city, every language in the world is spoken here and there will be friends for your team if you come to London.
Rio is a spectacularly beautiful city with a very happy, healthy outdoor lifestyle and I would expect much of that to be reflected in the style of Games that they run.
How important is the maintenance of Olympic venues to the legacy of London 2012 and do you discuss legacies with the bidding cities for 2020?
Yes, we do, and very seriously. The IOC is very happy that the award of the Games to a particular city is a catalyst for development and if you look at London, we took an area roughly the size of Hyde Park and cleaned it up and developed it in east London. That’s the most marvellous physical legacy for London.
We have been unhappy on occasions with previous host cities, where sports facilities have been built which haven’t really been used post-Games. We try not to leave white elephants . We’re very interested to ask bidding cities what the legacy is, and clearly bidding cities know the question is going to be asked, so they’ve got a very clear idea of what they’re going to build, why they’re going to build it, what they’re going to do with it afterwards, so yes, legacy is one of the buzzwords of the whole Olympic campaign.
Sir Craig Reedie gained success playing badminton from 1962 to 1970, culminating in becoming a doubles champion. At the time, badminton was not recognised as an Olympic sport, a situation his influence was able to remedy in 1985, leading to the first medals being awarded at the 1992 Summer Olympics.
After his success as a player, Reedie turned his efforts towards sports administration and from 1981 to 1984 he was President of the International Badminton Federation (IBF). In 1992, he became the Chairman of the British Olympic Association (BOA), serving in that capacity for more than a decade, and for which role he was knighted on retiring in 2005. In 1994, in addition to his British role, Reedie joined the International Olympic Committee (IOC), where he is currently one of three United Kingdom representatives.
Sir Craig was elected to the Executive Board of the IOC in recognition of his contributions to the Olympic movement. He is the first British IOC Member to hold this distinction in over 60 years. He also sat on the board of the London 2012 Organising Committee.
Reedie is a member of the Order of the British Empire, in the rank of Commander, giving him the post-nominal letters CBE. In 2006 he gained further recognition, with the award of a knighthood from the Queen, since when his formal title has become: Sir Craig Reedie, CBE. Reedie was awarded with an Honorary Degree by the University of Lincoln in the 2010 Graduation ceremonies.
Sir Craig was recently elected as the Vice-President of the IOC.