When the International Olympic Committee (IOC) approved Agenda 2020, its “strategic roadmap for the Olympic Movement” in 2014, the most evidently urgent issue was to boost the appeal of hosting the Olympic Games. Four European cities had pulled out of bidding for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, leaving Almaty and Beijing as candidates.
The first three of Agenda 2020’s “20+20” recommendations focussed on reforming the bidding process. These changes have been quickly implemented and the results are evident in the strong field of cities bidding for the 2024 Olympic Games.
But Agenda 2020 is about much more than this, focusing on areas such as sustainability, blending sport and culture, launching an Olympic TV channel, engaging with communities – and an issue that has become extremely pressing for the Olympic Movement in recent months: the protection of clean athletes.
Sir Craig Reedie, in his dual roles as Vice President of the International Olympic Committee and President of the World Anti-Doping Agency, spoke exclusively to Host City about the challenges and opportunities ahead for the Olympic Movement and how the IOC is implementing Agenda 2020.
HOST CITY: How is the IOC encouraging organising committees to boost sustainability and reduce the cost of event delivery?
Sir Craig Reedie: Sustainability covers a wide range of operations. It effectively started under Agenda 2020 with the first two or three proposals, which were to shape the bidding process as an invitation; and then evaluating the cities, assessing key opportunities and risks; reduce the cost of bidding; and then to include sustainability in all aspects of the Olympic Games and the Olympic movement.
By framing the Games bidding process under the invitation, we get the opportunity to speak to a National Olympic Committee which wants to submit a city, and the city itself, right at the start of the programme. We can set out quite clearly that we wish them to consider a sustainability strategy, to develop a plan and to integrate and implement sustainability measures that cover the economic side, the social side and the environmental sphere in all stages of the project. And so far I have to say that seems to be working.
The Winter Games are sometimes a bit more complicated than Summer Games, because by the very nature of Winter Games there are some indoor facilities that are very sports specific – for example long track speed skating. A lot of work needs to be done by organising committees and candidate cities to make sure that what they build is sustainable after the Games.
For a summer Games it’s probably a little bit easier, because the facilities that have been built can frequently be used for more than one sport or more than one purpose. It’s certainly an integral part of the Agenda 2020 process and it’s underway.
We certainly wish to reduce the cost of bidding and that is clearly underway at the moment for the 2024 bidding process. The cities have far fewer presentations to make and they work very closely with the IOC. There are three specific stages and we are just at the beginning of stage one.
We want what is built to be sustainable; we don’t want any white elephants and we want cities to plan all that carefully all the way through.
HOST CITY: Looking ahead to Tokyo 2020 do you have confidence that their stadium will be a sustainable solution?
Sir Craig Reedie: Yes, they looked hard at the original plans for the main stadium primarily on the basis of cost and they have come back, as far as I can see, with a revised and more cost effective plan.
It’s more sustainable and it will be finished earlier, which is a good thing so you can fit that stadium with all the bits and pieces that are necessary for an Olympic Games; you’ve got not just sport taking part there but you’ve got major ceremonies.
Most recently there was a report from Tokyo on the whole sustainability structure and that gives me some confidence that what we wanted to happen is actually happening.
HOST CITY: A USD 20m fund was set aside to protect clean athletes through Agenda 2020. In the light of recent revelations in athletics, is this enough or are further measures necessary?
Sir Craig Reedie: The US$20m fund is clearly working. It was split into two parts. The first was US$10m for advanced anti-doping research; it was made available to WADA provided we got governments to match the US$10m. We managed to collect about US$6.5m, so we have received or are in the process of receiving US$6.5m of the original ten. So there is a new fund of about US$13m which WADA is dealing with.
The remaining US$3.5m, which was not matched by governments, is being invested by the IOC itself; and we clearly cooperate on the applications we get for that scientific research to make sure we don’t do the same thing. That process is working extremely well.
The second US$10m under the heading “protecting clean athletes” wasn’t anti-doping – it was for any forms of manipulation and corruption. Clearly that’s been in the media recently with accusations about wrongdoing in tennis several years ago, and the tennis authorities are clearly looking at that.
The IOC have invested some of that US$10m in an intelligence gathering system to which almost all the International Federations have signed up. So that process is underway as well.
HOST CITY: It must be very costly looking into and investigating the integrity of all the Olympic Sports combined. Is working with the International Federations (IFs) a way forward there?
Sir Craig Reedie: They are an integral part of the Olympic movement. The IOC itself, the IFs and the NOCs are the three pillars of the movement, so we are structured to deal with the IFs. Certainly in the anti-doping field, from WADA’s point of view, we work closely with all the IFs.
There is a debate at the moment about the creation of a new independent testing agency to take away the perceived conflict that IFs might have, who are supposed to develop and organise their sport, and at the same time to police their sport. The more we speak to people the more the feeling there is that this is a good idea and it might well happen.
So this is a major project, the whole anti-doping effort is a major effort and quite clearly there are major problems in sport of manipulation and corruption and the IOC are well aware of that and effectively putting their money where their mouth is.
HOST CITY: What’s the outlook for Russia’s involvement in Rio?
Sir Craig Reedie: Well, from the WADA perspective our job is, having removed the accreditation of the Moscow laboratory because it was criticised in the independent commission report, and having declared the Russian anti-doping agency to be non-compliant, our job is to deal with both of these situations so that the accreditation of the laboratory can be renewed and above all that the Russian anti-doping agency becomes compliant again.
Our job is not to do this so that people can take part in the Rio Games; our job is to assist Russia in becoming compliant again. It’s other people who decide whether they go to Rio. The one national federation at the moment that is suspended is the Russian athletics federation; it’s the responsibility of the IAAF to make sure that that particular national federation is compliant with all aspects of the world anti-doping code – plus other conditions that it has applied – these will all have to purified before they can be declared compliant and by definition then available to come to the Rio Games. There is a lot of work to be done.
HOST CITY: How will the IOC itself continue to show leadership in the good governance of its own affairs?
Sir Craig Reedie: As leaders of the Olympic movement, we start with ourselves. We now produce a very comprehensive and detailed annual report which is very transparent; it tells everybody everything we are doing, it tells what people are paid, and tells everybody that we produce the accounts under the international financial reporting system – even though that’s not a legal obligation on us.
We have imposed time limits on membership, time limits on periods that you can stay on committees. So we’ve looked very hard at our own governance.
We also speak regularly to the associations of international federations and encourage them to do the same – and many of them do.
As far as National Olympic Committees are concerned, they again are given guidelines – there are basic standard of good governance with which we expect them to comply. At the moment they self-monitor, but we try to ensure that across the whole movement high standards of good governance will apply.
HOST CITY: How will the Olympic movement engage with society and communities in the future?
In many cases the reform process was a serious think-tank. We did look very carefully at, and have a recommendation on, how we deal with communities.
The first one that is being worked on is to create a virtual hub for our athletes and we are quite a long way down the line in doing that.
We’re looking at doing the same for volunteers; we’re looking at ways we can engage the general public. Much of this is social media and how we can improve our website and how we can encourage people to keep in touch with us. We need to have a very clear policy ourselves on how we engage with young people – all of that work is underway.
We’re also going to develop, at no little expense, a television programme called the Olympic Channel, which is going to be a digital programme in its initial form that can then spread into being a full television programme if needs be at a later date, and if countries want it. That will allow us to inform, educate, hopefully excite, entertain and amuse millions and millions of people. All of that is quite an exciting prospect as we move forward.
HOST CITY: It’s interesting that it’s going digital first, because the majority of young people are now watching more on the internet than on traditional television.
Sir Craig Reedie: Yes, I suspect that that piece of statistical information was warmly welcomed in the offices of the digital channel in Madrid.
HOST CITY: Why is it so important to further strengthen the blending of sport and culture at the Olympic Games and in-between?
Sir Craig Reedie: At the end of the day it’s one of the absolutely defining characteristics of the Olympic movement and the Olympic Games – that there is this clear mix, this blend of sport and culture.
We’re trying to develop that; we’re looking at creating an Olympic Laurel award to celebrate any outstanding contribution to Olympism through culture, education, development and peace. We are looking to develop an Olympic House, to welcome the general public to engage in a dialogue with the Olympic movement.
There’s a programme called artists in residence which is being examined; that’s a very specific cultural connection. We’re looking at a curators committee composed of various global cultural players.
We also try as best we can to take the Olympic Museum out on the road: for example, specific Olympic Museums created in host cities at times of the Games. I think that’s quite an exciting project; it’s one of the projects I’m trying to develop, as I think it’s part of our heritage and it’s something we should celebrate.
HOST CITY: How is Agenda 2020 being implemented within the IOC?
Sir Craig Reedie: The whole Agenda 2020 process appears to have been warmly welcomed and we now work on it regularly at the Executive Board meetings. We look at the implementation plan to see what else we have to do; so it’s not just been a question of thinking through what we want to do, putting it down on paper and then hoping that it happens. There is a specific and detailed implementation plan that we look at on a very regular basis.
A lot of this will fall, in several years’ time, into our new headquarters in Lausanne, so everybody working for the IOC in Lausanne works under one roof. It’s a huge investment in the Olympic movement, it’s a huge investment in sport and it’s also a huge investment in Lausanne – particularly when you look at the way we’ve made a similar investment in the complete remodelling of the Olympic Museum. So we hope to be good citizens.
The IOC Executive Board will meet in Lausanne on 1 to 3 March 2016 to discuss the implementation of Olympic Agenda 2020