Sir Craig Reedie, Britain's recently elected International Olympic Committee vice president, will lead the team that inspects the three cities in the hunt for the 2020 Summer Games, the IOC announced Thursday. Reedie -- who has extensive experience in sports, business and politics -- is superbly positioned to do a first-rate job leading the nine-person panel, which next March will tour Madrid, Tokyo and Istanbul. After those visits, the commission will then write a report detailing each city's so-called "technical" strengths and weaknesses.
The IOC will select the 2020 site next September at an assembly in Buenos Aires.
Reedie said in a telephone interview, "Clearly I'm very pleased to be doing this," adding he's looking forward to what he predicted would be an "interesting exercise."
The commission will visit Tokyo March 4-7, 2013; Madrid March 18-21; and Istanbul March 24-27. The order was based purely on logistical considerations, the IOC said.
Reedie is the former president of the international badminton federation and has been an IOC member since 1994. He has served on the 2008 and 2016 evaluation commissions and, as well, on the 2004 and 2008 coordination commissions.
He has been an IOC executive board member since 2009.
Reedie played a key role in London's winning 2005 bid for the 2012 Games. Since 2005, he has served on the London 2012 organizing committee's board of directors.
The IOC president, Jacques Rogge, said in a statement that Reedie "knows as well as anybody what it takes to host a sustainable, well-organized and ultimately successful Olympic Games."
The eight others on the evaluation commission:
Guy Drut of France; Frank Fredericks of Namibia; Nat Indrapana of Thailand; Claudia Bokel of Germany; Eduadro Palomo of El Salvador; Pat McQuaid of Ireland; Andrew Parsons of Brazil; and, of course, Gilbert Felli, the IOC's Olympic Games executive director.
The IOC sports director, Christophe Dubi, will aid the commission, as will the IOC's head of bid city relations, Jacqueline Barrett, and a number of advisors who have yet to be named.
All of this is normal.
Drut's appointment is noteworthy for two reasons. It means the IOC is reaching out, even if in a small way, to France. It also signals that Drut's rehabilitation within the IOC is apparently total and complete. In 2006, the IOC reprimanded Drut and barred him from chairing any commissions for five years in connection with a corruption case in France.
Indrapana ran for senior IOC office at the session before the London Games but didn't win.
Bokel is -- make no mistake -- a rising star in OIympic circles.
So, too, may be Palomo, and his name may be the most interesting of all on the list. Any name from the western hemisphere in the European-dominated IOC must always be understood to be intriguing, and Palomo -- head of El Salvador's national Olympic committee -- is fluent in both Spanish and English and, as well, Latino and American cultures. He is a Texas A&M graduate.
Reedie and the others on the commission doubtlessly will be met at each stop next March by breathless television crews hoping for a scoop about who has the inside line in the 2020 election. The reality is that the process is thoroughly anodyne.
Absent a major mistake in protocol -- hugely unlikely under Reedie's watch -- the commission is a traveling road show that is, in a way, both a bit of IOC genus and simultaneously a missed opportunity.
It's genius because it generates astonishing publicity. And yet, thoroughly by design, pretty much nothing happens.
Nothing can happen because the IOC vote itself will be months away, and because of the Salt Lake City corruption scandal of the late 1990s the 100-plus members themselves are forbidden from visiting the bidding cities. So this -- the evaluation commission visit -- is the next best thing.
The missed opportunity is that, for all the publicity, the IOC has since the late 1990s largely failed to communicate what its evaluation teams are doing during its four days in each city and why those visits actually really matter.
There is no behind-the-scenes what-is-really-going-on. There is for sure no 21st-century social-media presence.
There is -- to put it simply -- a lot of show but very little tell.
Without that, pressure is going to continue to build to resume the member visits. That pressure is going to come not just from the public but, way more important, from the members themselves.
Rogge is adamantly against member visits. And that's fine, indeed a thoroughly defensible position. But Rogge's 12 years in office will end next September. And then what? With time, the Salt Lake scandal is going to keep receding farther and farther into history.
Having myself covered these evaluation visits for many of the recent IOC elections, it begs the obvious question -- should I know more, or have a better feel, about what's literally on the ground in these cities than the members themselves? I don't have a vote, and they do. Does that make sense?