Carlos Nuzman

So Brazil is suspended, and the Russians ...

So Brazil is suspended, and the Russians ...

The International Olympic Committee is fed up to here — no, way past that, up to, like, there — with the now-arrested Carlos Nuzman, head of the Rio 2016 Games and the Brazilian Olympic Committee.

In its zeal to appear decisive in the wake of Nuzman’s Thursday arrest in Rio, the IOC on Friday announced it was suspending both Nuzman and the Brazilian Olympic Committee, which goes by the acronym COB.

Zeal is rarely constructive.

Why? When you act in haste, you generally don’t think through all the consequences of what you’re doing.

16 bars of gold

16 bars of gold

It was only a little more than a year ago, standing center stage on a wet and windy night at historic Maracanā Stadium, that Carlos Nuzman, president of the Rio organizing committee, declared at the closing ceremony of the 2016 Summer Games, “I am the happiest man alive.”

He added, “Let’s celebrate together this great victory, this triumph of sport, of youth.” Knowing what we know now: that is what is called chutzpah. Nuzman, authorities said Thursday, had 16 gold bars in a safe in Switzerland.

The real story of Rio, and perhaps the Tokyo 2020 Games as well, is now going to be written, and the International Olympic Committee — which bought itself time with the award of Paris for 2024 and Los Angeles for 2028 — is already looking out to the 2026 Winter Games, but the essential disconnect that is Nuzman and the IOC response to his arrest is at the core of why the institution is enduring such profound turbulence.


And now: the latest, greatest IOC corruption scandal

And now: the latest, greatest IOC corruption scandal

The International Olympic Committee is meeting in Peru at what should be a moment of triumph, the awarding of the 2024 and 2028 Summer Olympic Games to Paris and Los Angeles.

Instead, the news cycle is dominated by headlines trumpeting seemingly more of the same: corruption in the Olympic scene.

Is it really so difficult to understand why taxpayers are so fed up?

More and more, indisputably Bach's IOC


LAUSANNE, Switzerland — In 1980, Juan Antonio Samaranch of Spain was elected president of the International Committee. The next year, the IOC held a far-reaching Congress in Baden-Baden, Germany, that set the stage for Samaranch’s visionary — yes, visionary — years in office. Germany’s Thomas Bach was elected IOC president last September. This December, the IOC will hold an all-members assembly in Monaco to reflect on his far-reaching review and potential reform process, which he has dubbed “Olympic Agenda 2020.” Backstage, the comparisons to Samaranch have already begun, and within the Olympic community those comparisons are assuredly meant to be complimentary.

IOC president Thomas Bach, flanked by communications director Mark Adams, leaving Wednesday's news conference

Absolutely Samaranch endured criticism, some of it brutal, outside the walls of the IOC’s lakefront Chateau de Vidy headquarters. At the same time, he was widely adored within the IOC as a president who commanded authority but who also understood personalities and relationships.

Bach has already demonstrated the same touch.

On Tuesday night, the upstairs bar area of the Palace Hotel in Lausanne was turned into a viewing party area for IOC members — and reporters, too — for the soccer World Cup semifinal match between Germany and Brazil. The front row featured a couch where Bach, who promised to be “studiously neutral,” and Carlos Nuzman, who leads the Rio 2016 effort, sat side by side.

Behind were rows of couches or chairs for everyone else. Without anything having to be said, it was understood both that the president was to be left alone until the game was over, and that afterward he would be gracious enough to say a few words.

This scene would never have transpired during the Jacques Rogge years. Not that Rogge is not friendly enough. It’s just that this was not his style.

Almost a year in, it’s now evident this is more and more becoming Bach’s IOC. This is as it should be.

The IOC functions best when the president takes charge. When he is a strong figure.

Bach recognized this from the outset.

Politically, financially and diplomatically, he has -- in large measure -- moved adeptly.

Last November, he delivered a speech at the United Nations that delineated the IOC’s place in the complex worlds of politics and sport. He then navigated through the controversies of the Sochi Games. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon met Bach here in Lausanne in June; that meeting came just two months after the two signed an agreement to strengthen ties; Rogge, meanwhile, has been appointed Ban’s special envoy for youth refugees and sport.

Bach moved fast to strike a $7.75 billion deal with NBC, announced in May, that extends the network’s rights through 2032. A key facet of that deal is $100 million to explore the potential of an Olympic television channel — and it surely is no accident that of the 14 working groups in Bach’s Olympic Agenda 2020 process, the only one the president himself is chairing is the one exploring the potential TV channel.

A “summit” reviewing the working groups’ activity meets in Lausanne next week; the executive board takes a look at it all in October.

The TV deal extends the IOC’s enviable financial position. Keep in mind the global financial crisis of the past several years while processing these numbers: the IOC’s forecast 2013-16 revenues are up 86 percent compared to 2001-04. Why? Primarily television rights, which have increased by 85 percent to $4.1 billion from $2.2 billion. Throw in another $1 billion for top-tier sponsor revenues, up a comparable 53 percent, and simple math says the IOC is at $5.1 billion.

Bach’s pace has kept staffers half his age racing to keep up. After the three-day executive board get-together, he was due to fly out Wednesday night to Rio for high-level meetings amid the World Cup final with Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff and others. After the game, he flies to Haiti for the dedication of an IOC “Sport for Hope” project; the UN’s Ban is due to attend as well.

In his news conference Wednesday, asked a question about potential Tokyo 2020 venue changes by a Japanese reporter, Bach talked about how he’d recently had some discussions with senior authorities in Tokyo while on the ground there for all of 12 hours.

Bach, too, knows that all is not rosy with the IOC. Hardly. Absolutely he knows that criticism comes with the territory.

For one, he is not a dictator. He is a president. The IOC has to be careful not to overreach — so, for instance, when the Spanish Olympic Committee announces, as it did last week, that it is going to be working on an anti-doping program funded by the IOC, that is bound to raise questions about the role of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Much IOC business seemingly can take on the air of never-ending, impending crisis. The Rio project, for instance, is well behind schedule. “We have to stay vigilant. There is no time to lose,” Bach said Wednesday, adding a moment later, “We are very confident. The World Cup is encouraging. We are very confident we will have great Games in Rio de Janeiro.”

The cities that were passed through Monday to the finalist stage for the 2022 Winter Games race — Oslo, Beijing and Almaty — underscore perhaps the IOC’s most fundamental challenge:

There were only three left.

The IOC had essentially no choice but to go with those three, and Oslo is by no means certain to stay in. The government there must yet offer certain financial guarantees; it won’t be known until November whether that can happen.

Over the past several months, scared off by the $51 billion figure associated with the Sochi Olympics, other cities said no thanks to 2022: Stockholm; Lviv, Ukraine; Krakow, Poland; Munich.

In an IOC-commissioned survey released Tuesday, asked if staging the Olympic Games leaves the host city or country with “many benefits,” 73 percent responded favorably, 13 percent not. The online survey consists of 36,000 interviews in 16 countries; age groups ranged from eight to 65. A margin of error was not immediately available.

So there’s obviously a disconnect -- all those people all over the world believe the Games are beneficial, according to that poll, and yet all those cities and governments, when it comes to 2022, bowing out.

It’s reality, it's perception, it’s a significant communications challenge, it's all intertwined.

Asked about the disconnect Wednesday, Bach spoke, uninterrupted, for nearly six minutes. This is obviously unusual at a news conference — but underscores the importance of what’s much on the mind within the so-called "Olympic family."

This is what he said:

“Explain. We have to explain and to explain and to explain. This is sometimes, you know, we could say easily sometimes you have a difference between the published opinion and the public opinion. But this would be too easy. It is obvious we have to explain our system of bidding and organization of the Games better.

“That means we have to show that this is a very transparent procedure from the very beginning. You know, you can start with a working group — the results of this working group are public, are open to everybody, the report and the visit of the evaluation commission will be open to everybody, the bidding files are to everybody. The evaluation report is open to everybody. The comments from the bidding cities are open to everybody. Obviously, we need to explain this better and more.

“We have to explain better and more the system and the logic of the two different budgets," meaning, on the one hand, the Games operational budget and, on the other, however much a city, region or nation opts to invest in infrastructure. "It is, you know, this is easy when you speak to a financial or business community. They understand very well that you can not depreciate the investment for housing for thousands of people within 16 days to zero. But obviously the broader public does not understand this.

“This is an investment budget, what you could put in the Olympic Games budget and what is Olympic-related — there what you could argue is the rent for the four weeks, where this housing serves as the Olympic Village. The other day, a colleague of mine said, it is like with a housewarming party. It’s as if you would calculate the cost for a housewarming party [in] the construction cost of a house. It’s a little bit the same, therefore for the two budgets and for the investments to be made. There again we also have to explain.

“And the Olympic Agenda to make sure — it is first of all up to the candidate cities to tell us how the Games fit into their environment. That means which investments have they planned, anyway, to develop their city, their region, and how the Games fit into this, not blaming in the end the IOC and the Olympic movement for infrastructure projects they wanted to do, anyway, but using the Games just as a catalyst because they know that without the Games they would not never have gotten the approval to put them in place.

“I was once, allow me this to be a little bit because as I say I have to explain and I may take the opportunity to explain — we had once had a bid in Germany, this was for the Summer Games, this was the bid from Leipzig,” for the 2012 Summer Games. “One day the prime minister there of this region invited me to visit there Leipzig and to show me the project. Then he got me to a helicopter and we were flying over the airport of Leipzig.

"Then he showed me some land and said, ‘Here we are going to build the next landing strip for the airport.’

“I said, ‘What do you need it for?’

“‘It’s the other way around. I need it, the candidature for the Games, to get this approval for this landing strip.’

“In the end, if they would have gotten the Games, then people would have said the Games have to pay for this landing strip. It’s just not logic but sometimes in this business it’s more about perception than it is about reality. So we have to keep explaining and thank you for giving me the opportunity to start.”


What now, France?

DURBAN, South Africa -- Guy Drut, one of France's two International Olympic Committee members, called it a "very, very cold shower," and that was the headline all over Thursday's editions of the French newspaper Le Monde. L'Équipe, the French sports daily, offered up the "autopsy of a failure."

In the Tribune de Genève, which can be read not just in Geneva but in Annecy, the French town just down the road that got spanked in Wednesday's IOC vote, receiving just seven votes, it was, "Disappointed."

"We console ourselves as we can," L'Équipe said, and with all due respect, that's not it. Now is not the time for consolation.

Now is the time for a wholesale re-think of what is going on over there in France.

That's what's going on in the United States as the U.S. Olympic Committee tries to rebuild its financial and political relationships with the IOC.

And that's what is manifestly called for now in France.

If that's not obvious, every single person in position of leadership in French sport ought to be replaced.

There have now been four French bids for the Olympic Games in the past 14 years -- Lille for 2004, Paris for both 2008 and 2012 and, now, Annecy for 2018. By common reckoning, the French have spent a combined 130 million euros on the four bids, about $185 million at current exchange rates.

What do they have to show for it?

Absolutely nothing.

It's pretty plain that Annecy's performance here in Durban ranks at the bottom of any bid city's effort over the last 20 years. To recap it all is to wonder how a country that has so much going for it can get it all so very wrong:

From the start, the bid proved a complicated tangle between a national Olympic committee and the central government in Paris and the locals in the far-off mountains. Jean-Claude Killy, the French ski legend and acknowledged authority in IOC circles on Winter Games, kept his distance from the campaign; he would ultimately make only three live appearances on behalf of the bid, one here in Durban.

Moreover, and crucially, the bid was under-funded from the get-go.

Because of those funding concerns, bid chief Edgar Grospiron resigned last December. No one wanted the job. Entrepreneur Charles Beigbeder was finally convinced to take it. At that point, the technical plan was a mess. There was no narrative -- that is, no story about why anyone should want to vote for Annecy.

It proved remarkable how many times one heard bid officials mention the name "Annecy" once in a briefing and then go on to mention "the French Alps" thereafter.

A little brand-management, please. Frankly, the bid should always have been called "Chamonix." There's a name that's globally recognized and might have excited people.

For his part, Beigbeder was put in a hugely untenable position. On the one hand, he had to try to keep everyone around him motivated. On the other, he had to confront the reality he had inherited.

Reality check:

If the IOC vote had been held when Beigbeder took over, it's quite possible -- as even bid insiders now acknowledge -- Annecy might have gotten no votes.

From there, things did pick up. Well, some. The technical plan was improved. A creative team -- Lucien Boyer, Andrew Craig, Nick Varley, Dan Connolly -- developed a story and hammered it until journalists could recite it by heart. That's a good thing. It meant the team had done their job. The tagline: "an authentic Games in the heart of the mountains."

Even so, it remained clear Annecy still had no chance to win. The only issue was how many votes it could get. Like, double digits?

The French were counting on African votes -- in particular, Francophone votes -- to get there. As if.

If you know how the game works, it's quite possible the French got no African votes. There were those here who knew Francophone voters were still incredibly angry for promises made in 2005 in the course of the Paris 2012 campaign that they felt had never been fulfilled. No way were they going to be voting for Annecy now.

Here's the bottom line:

In general, as a country, France does have so much going for it. The French Olympic committee is not -- as is the USOC -- locked in a revenue dispute with the IOC. So, at a macro level, what's the problem?

That's what the re-think has to be about.

France has not been able, for instance, to take the momentum of the multiculturalism that was 1998 and the winning World Cup in Paris and translate that into a winning Olympic bid. Why is that?

The Annecy campaign? Not one person of color in any leadership position.

Moreover, France's Olympic bids keep getting stuck in some weird sense of entitlement rooted in the fact that Pierre de Coubertin was French, and de Coubertin is the man who in many ways got the modern Olympic movement going. Our French friends need to get over that. Like, now. Take soccer. Modern-day soccer has its roots in Britain. Did England win the 2018 World Cup because of that? Hardly.

Sorry to say this, too, but while the French did a much better job speaking English in the Annecy presentation Wednesday to the IOC -- about 40 percent of it was in English -- they need to ramp it up even more. They can like that, or not. But they have to accept it, or at least think long and hard about the consequences of not accepting it. The language of international business has become English and the language of the Olympic movement is, practically speaking, English.

Here is indisputable proof:

At every Games, the IOC makes available a database in both English and French to the thousands of writers and broadcasters from around the world. The usage stats from the 2010 Vancouver Olympics: 96.4 percent of the hits were in English, 3.6 percent in French.

In the first of their losing bids eight years ago, Pyeongchang's team spoke almost exclusively in Korean.

What the Koreans have learned and what the French now have to study is how to play to your audience. On Wednesday, Pyeongchang's 45-minute presentation went down almost entirely in English.

You'd like to think that in Beigbeder and in the French sports minister, Chantal Jouanno, the French now might have a team that has endured a brutal learning curve and could put what they've learned to use long-term. Because this has to be a long-term play.

Then again, given the French way, it's not clear how long Jouanno can stay in her position.

Just one more thing for them to think about.

This, too:

L'Équipe's two standout Olympic correspondents, Alain Lunzenfichter and Marc Chevrier, published a lengthy feature Thursday entitled, "Objective Paris 2024!"

It seems almost inevitable. They'll be lusting after those 2024 Games in Paris because they staged the 1924 Games there.

The IOC will pick the 2024 site in 2017. That gives the French six years to get their act together, as the story points out.

Just to be blunt: that 100-year thing is no guarantee of anything. Ask Athens. They lusted for 1996 after staging 1896. The 1996 Games went to Atlanta.

Carlos Nuzman, the 2016 Rio bid leader, now its chief organizer, held a casual briefing Thursday afternoon with some reporters.  Asked what he might suggest to his French friends, he said, "You need to evaluate a lot of things. You need to put on paper or [sit] around a round table. Maybe you will think and some momentum will come.

"It's very important to understand bids nowadays are different from the past. This is one special lesson."

The eternal Don Mario

ACAPULCO -- There is no question, and there can be no doubt, that Mexico's Mario Vazquez Raña is the most important and influential figure in the Olympic movement in the entire Western Hemisphere. No one in the United States, for instance, is even close.

No one anywhere on this side of the world is even close.

The proceedings here this week can only cement that fact. Vazquez Raña yet again presided over the assembly of the Assn. of National Olympic Committees; officials from roughly 200 countries were on hand. He was re-elected ANOC president. ANOC held a first-ever assembly with sports ministers from around the globe; some 100 government representatives showed up. ANOC held a joint meeting with the IOC's policy-making executive board.  And then Don Mario, as he is respectfully addressed by Spanish-speaking journalists in news conferences, took his place around the IOC executive board table for three days of closed-door meetings that started Sunday.

For all of that, Vazquez Raña's run is -- as is the case in all human endeavor -- nearing an end. And the issue framed here is both full of complexities but elegantly simple:

How does he go out?

Does Vazquez Raña get to choose? Or is that choice going to be made for him?

Vazquez Raña has been ANOC president for 31 years. He was re-elected here by acclaim. And not just acclaim. He got a standing ovation.

Asked at a news conference Friday if he thought election by acclaim fit with 21st-century versions of good governance and best practices, he said of course it did. No one ran against me, he said.

Unspoken was this reality: No one would dare run against Vazquez Raña.

No one could possibly remain atop an organization for so long, one that has seen such growth, without extraordinary political skill. Vazquez Raña is possessed of an incredibly keen understanding of the human condition.

He also has for years helped oversee the distribution of Olympic Solidarity funds to needy athletes around the world. All in, ANOC's budget now runs to nearly $8 million annually, according to a report available here.

Vazquez Raña is an extraordinary businessman. He runs an empire that extends to dozens of newspapers, television and radio outlets. Some of those newspapers reported his ANOC re-election with banner headlines of a sort that in the United States might have been reserved for the end of a world war.

Truthfully, such moments are rare. Vazquez Raña tends to operate with discretion. His contact list is vast. His connections -- in sports, business, politics, government -- are incredible. The contributions he has made to the Olympic movement are innumerable. No one will probably ever know, for instance, how many times he has sent a private jet to facilitate Olympic business of one sort or the other.

The challenge now is this:

An ANOC representative gets a seat at the IOC executive board. In returning Vazquez Raña to the presidency, delegates here took the additional step of formally passing a resolution that he continue his executive board service "during his mandate" -- that is, for all four years.

Vazquez Raña is now 78. His birthday is June 7, 1932.

As part of the reforms sparked by the late 1990s Salt Lake City corruption scandal, the IOC put in place age limits. One of the sub-parts to Rule 16 of the Olympic Charter now says you stop being an IOC member at the end of the calendar year in which you turn 70.

However, a Rule 16 bylaw grandfathers in -- so to speak -- those who became members before the close of the IOC's 110th all-members session, in December, 1999. For them the retirement rules play out this way:

A member "must retire" by the end of the calendar year in which he or she turns 80; retirement for one who is president, vice president or serving on the executive board takes effect "at the end of the next session" after turning 80.

Vazquez Raña became an IOC member in 1991. Pretty clearly, the rules would seem to suggest that his term on the executive board is going to come to an end in about two years, at the close of the London 2012 Olympics. That, though, is only halfway through his new four-year ANOC mandate.

Pretty clearly, too, he wants to stay on. He said Sunday at a news conference, "I feel like I [am] 60. As long as I can keep on working, I will keep on working, regardless of my chronological age."

The other IOC members re-elected Vazquez Raña to the executive board at the session in Beijing in 2008. Four years from that makes -- neatly, perhaps -- 2012.

There's a complication to the dynamic. If Vazquez Raña gets an exception at 80, what about those who became IOC members after December, 1999, and are now nearing 70?

Rio de Janeiro got the 2016 Games in large part because of the winning personality of Carlos Nuzman. He is IOC member, president of the Brazilian Olympic Committee and now head of the Rio 2016 organizing committee. Nuzman joined the IOC in 2000. He turns 70 on March 17, 2012. Should he get an exception, too?

IOC President Jacques Rogge on Sunday said the issue of Vazquez Raña's status on the executive board would be a matter for the board itself to study. Not here. Later.

Rules demand consistent application. Rogge himself said, albeit in a different context earlier Sunday, speaking to the ANOC delegates, "If we want to claim autonomy from the public authorities, we must be impeccable in terms of our governance."

Especially now. The FIFA bid scandal has rocked international sport. "Impeccable" is indeed the right word.

If an exception were to be carved out for Vazquez Raña, the IOC runs the risk of a major PR backlash. Those Salt Lake reforms were enacted for sound reason, and Rogge himself has consistently stressed the ongoing import of perhaps the key plank of the 50-point reform plan, the ban on member visits to cities bidding for the Games.

Samaranch stayed as president for 20 years. Rogge has given every indication that he plans to step aside when his term expires, in 2013 -- his two terms, 12 years in total, a further Salt Lake reform. Should the likes of Vazquez Raña get a break when the president himself is assuredly subject to term limits?

Finally, there's this:

It is a tenet of leadership school that you identify your successor. Who's next at ANOC? That's not clear. And that's not healthy, for ANOC, for the IOC or for Vazquez Raña's considerable legacy.

"I have always considered media in our movement as one of the strongholds, one of the pillars," Vazquez Raña said in closing Sunday's news conference. "Sometimes it's good to get your applause but it's also good to get your criticism. Criticism in sports is good as long as it's constructive and realistic."

In that spirit, Don Mario, and this English-speaking observer offers the honorific with the utmost respect, here it is:

Just because you might have to step away from the executive board and IOC membership does not mean the end. You now have two years to set yourself up for the next stage, to determine how to remain of service to the Olympic movement while further enhancing your legacy.

Who wouldn't want you to serve as, say, "special advisor"?

Make that transition on your terms. It's not realistic to stay longer. And it won't be constructive if someone else has to tell you it's time.

One down, nine to go, lots to talk about

ACAPULCO -- One presentation down. As many as nine more to go, concluding with the International Olympic Committee's vote next July for the 2018 Games. Munich unquestionably had the best videos here Thursday. It's why they were widely perceived to be the winners in Thursday's initial presentations, with Pyeongchang slightly behind and Annecy farther back.

One presentation hardly makes for an Olympic victory, however. As the bid teams regrouped here Friday, and as officials from the more than 200 national Olympic committees on hand dissected what they'd seen the day before, discussion turned to key issues that were not explored Thursday in detail but may yet prove pivotal.

Here are reports of what they were talking about:


Vancouver in 2010. Torino in 2006. Salt Lake City in 2002.

Those are big cities, not winter hamlets like Lillehammer, the Norwegian town that played host to the Winter Games in 1994. And so the IOC's Winter Games trend in recent years is clear, driven by the obvious: Seventeen days is a long time in a little place. In a big city there's more to do around the Olympic action.

Sochi, Russia, site of the 2014 Games, is not small, either. The city itself counts about 400,000 people.

Pyeongchang would mark a departure. The population of the town itself is somewhere about 75,000 people, the president of the Korean Olympic Committee, Yong Sung Park, said Friday at a breakfast for selected reporters, and that estimate may be generous.

That's why the construction of a high-speed rail line linking Seoul and Pyeongchang is so intriguing; it addresses what could be seen as a significant weakness in the Korean bid.

The project is being developed apart from the 2018 bid; construction is likely to begin in a few months, the line to Pyeongchang done by 2017.

Typically, such so-called "technical" matters are of interest only to the experts who study them. In this instance, though, the train could be a game-changer, because you could go from Seoul to Pyeongchang, about 120 miles, in 50 minutes, according to material supplied by the 2018 bid committee.

That's more or less how much time it took each day to commute from Darling Harbor in central Sydney out to the Olympic precinct for the 2000 Summer Games.

You could, for instance, stay in Pyeongchang and get to Seoul, which is as interesting as any city anywhere, in about half the time it took this past February to get from downtown Vancouver up to the alpine events in Whistler.

Or you could stay in Seoul and commute to the action in Pyeongchang.

Not everyone, of course, is going to want to ride the train.

Thus the additional suggestion at Thursday's presentation to, in effect, bring Seoul to Pyeongchang -- communications director Theresa Rah, speaking from the lectern, describing it as a "Best of Korea" experience, with "world-class restaurants boutiques, shopping malls and entertainment options."

She added a moment later, "Imagine the excitement of the Winter Games, the beauty of the Orient and the best of what Korea has to offer, all together in Pyeongchang."

Details are far from complete, bid chairman and chief executive Yang Ho Cho said at the day-after breakfast. Asked by one reporter to name chefs who might be on hand in 2018, Cho said with a smile that he had no idea. If Pyeongchang wins, he said, "We have a concept and an idea and to implement it we have lots of time."


There's another Olympic bid trend that often gets overlooked but in recent ballots has proven central to the balloting.

The IOC repeatedly has voted for a particular individual that the members obviously like, respect and want to be partners with.

Examples are numerous: Athens won in 1997 for 2004, for instance, because of the personality of Gianna Angelopoulos.

The trend for the last four elections is clear: John Furlong for Vancouver 2010. Seb Coe for London 2012. Dmitry Chernyshenko (and Vladimir Putin!) for Sochi 2014. Carlos Nuzman for Rio 2016.

The strength of the Annecy bid is chief executive Edgar Grospiron.

The point of the Annecy presentation Thursday was to introduce Grospiron -- and to give him the endorsement (via video) of Jean-Claude Killy, the French ski legend and IOC Winter Games operations expert.


Grospiron, in interviews, indisputably has proven he gets the vision thing. Can he and the French turn it into a compelling narrative?

For instance, France has played host to the Winter Games in 1924, 1968 and 1992.  It would only be natural to position Annecy as the 21st century extension of that legacy, wouldn't it?

"It's a continuing story between France and Olympism," Grospiron said of the three prior Winter Games, in Chamonix, Grenoble and Albertville.

"What's interesting now is that Olympism doesn't need France to exist. But France needs Olympism to be able to develop its sporting activity, to reinforce that."

Another, perhaps related, possibility: Annecy could also position itself, he said, as a forward-thinking bid that aims to use the Games as a catalyst to take on such challenges as global warming -- that is, the effect of climate change on already-mature ski and snow resorts forced to deal with, say, diminishing snowfall.

"This land is what we have," he said, calling the region in and around Annecy and Chamonix "most beautiful and most precious."

He said, "Our responsibility is to modernize and at the same time to preserve our values -- or its values, its traditions, its authenticity, its environment.

"That's the vision that I have … to integrate harmoniously the Games between the eternal snows of Mont Blanc and the crystal-clear waters of Lake Annecy. That's our main issue."


The 1972 Summer Games will forever be remembered for the kidnappings and murders of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches.

There's no point tiptoeing around it. It happened. It's part of the story of the Olympics and Munich.

"We knew from the beginning that this could be our biggest problem," the mayor of Munich, Christian Ude, said in an interview, speaking in English.

"Therefore we had a lot of talks with members of other national Olympic committees. I spoke about this in Athens in 2004 with a lot of representatives of the Olympic family, especially with the members of the Israeli delegation. The surprising answer -- surprising for me personally -- was that '72 was the first attack of international terrorism on the Olympic family. This could happen in the United States, in Great Britain, in Spain, in Russia, everywhere. It's not the responsibility of the location where the international terrorists have made an attack.

"That," he continued, "was not only the opinion of one or two -- the president and general secretary of the NOC of Israel but also the opinion of other members and of other countries. I spoke with the NOC of Poland, the former Czechoslovakia, Russia. They all said the same. This was not the responsibility of the location where it happened. It was the responsibility of the international terrorists who attack also in other continents and other countries.

"Especially the Israeli delegation and the Jewish members in other countries said two important things that encouraged us. First, the security standard in Germany is very high now, especially in Bavaria and Munich. About Munich, I say it as a Social Democrat, and the Free State of Bavaria has a conservative government, so it's not self-promoting: I have to accept that the security standard in Bavaria is very high. Munich is the city -- of all cities in Europe with more than one million inhabitants -- with the lowest crime rate. Year to year we get new evidence that the security standard in Munich is the best in all cities of this size.

"The second thing is that in the time of my office," 17 years and counting, "we have a re-birth of Jewish people and the Jewish religion and Jewish life in Munich. Some years ago we opened the new synagogue in the middle of the city. The new Jewish school and the new Jewish center with a restaurant and so on -- it is the biggest new Jewish center in Europe. We have guests from Israel, from the States, from everywhere in the world -- they accept the rebirth of Jewish life and that Jewish people feel in Munich at home. You couldn't imagine it some decades before.

"Therefore we believe it's not only our opinion. We ask the Jewish community worldwide: is it," meaning 1972, "a problem? If it's a problem, we make no bid. They all say it is no problem and they say one sentence more: Munich should get a second chance."