IOC Presidential Candidate Thomas Bach Resurrects Idea For Global Olympic Channel
Just four years after the IOC squashed the USOC's plans for an Olympic network, IOC presidential candidate Thomas Bach is resurrecting the idea and advocating the creation of a global Olympic channel. Bach, who spoke with press Friday, included the Olympic channel in his campaign platform. He believes the channel is necessary to raise the profile of Olympic sports in between Summer and Winter Games. Bach said, “This is not now a question about money. This is a question about addressing youth. If you do not see enough Olympic sports on TV and the Internet, then these other sports will lose more and more (participants) and young athletes.” Bach, who currrently is an IOC VP, said that he has not developed a plan for how to create the channel, and he did not say if it would be a digital or linear outlet. He added, “The business model on the other side of this would (need) to be defined. We would enter into discussions with our TV partners, which we have now, to get their input. Then from there we could take it. ... I want to start a real debate on this.” He envisions the process taking five years or longer. Bach’s call for an Olympic TV channel comes four years after the IOC intervened to stop the USOC from launching a channel with Comcast. Shortly after the USOC announced the partnership in '09, the IOC claimed the USOC did not have rights to create the channel or use archival content from the Olympics. The USOC later abandoned the effort.
OTHER PRIORITIES: Among Bach’s other priorities if he is elected president is changing the IOC’s approach to determining its Olympic program. The IOC currently has a cap on the number of athletes for each Summer Games and a cap on the number of sports, 28. Bach would like to see it lift its cap on the number of sports and consider eliminating some disciplines within sports so that it can keep the number of athletes the same and the number of permanent venues the same. Bach: “The limits on the number of athletes is fine and must be maintained. The number of sports, there we can be more flexible. ... We could add fashionable young and attractive disciplines.” In addition to those topics, Bach spoke about improving the Olympic bidding process so that it allows bid cities to be more creative with their plans and not so restricted by IOC guidelines. He also talked about improving transparency within the IOC, strengthening anti-doping sanctions and giving the IOC athlete’s commission more of a voice in the future of the Olympics. Bach said, “Given that we see more and more athletes’ unions and lobbying groups pretending to speak on behalf of the athletes, we have to establish our athletes’ commission as the legitimate representative body of the athletes because they are democratically elected.”
SIX IN THE RUNNING: The IOC Friday closed its deadline for candidates to enter the race to become the next IOC president without any new candidates joining the six that have announced their intentions to run. In addition to Bach, the candidates are IOC VP Ser Miang Ng, IOC Exec Board members Sergei Bubka and C.K. Wu and former Exec Board members Richard Carrion and Denis Oswald. The election is slated for Sept. 10 in Buenos Aires.