Claudia Bokel

Five for 2024 -- how many make it to 2017?


The International Olympic Committee on Wednesday celebrated the announcement that five cities are now formally in the race for the 2024 Summer Games: Paris, Los Angeles, Rome, Budapest and Hamburg, Germany.

After the debacle that was the 2022 Winter Games race, which ended up with only two finalists, Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan, Beijing in July elected the winner, you can see why this list of 2024 possibilities would be cause for IOC festivity.

"We can really look at the very diverse and creative field," IOC president Thomas Bach said in a Wednesday teleconference with reporters, "and we are looking forward to a fascinating and fair competition among these five outstanding and highly qualified candidate cities."

At another moment in the call, Bach said, "This competition is about quality, not quantity. What we see are five really highly qualified candidate cities. This is why we welcome really each and every one of these cities to this competition, which will be a very, very strong and fascinating one."

But wait. If "fascinating" is the word of the moment:

A view last month of the LA Memorial Coliseum // Getty Images

A view earlier this year of the Stade de France // Getty Images

Would anyone be surprised, really, if as soon as six months from now, this 2024 race is already down to three?

Or, when it comes to legitimate contenders, practically speaking, two?

That’s the first thing to keep in focus as Campaign 2024 gets underway.

For all the talk about Agenda 2020, the 40-point would-be reform plan the IOC approved last December, there’s a more than reasonable chance the IOC could find itself right back in a 2022-like situation.

This, even though the IOC announced last month, as an obvious result of the 2022 process, that it would no longer be trimming a bigger list of “applicant,” or first-stage, cities, to a shortlist of “candidate” cities, or finalists. That cut used to come about halfway through the roughly two-year bid cycle. Now, from the start, everyone will be a finalist, a "candidate," as Bach noted Wednesday. The reason: the IOC gets a bigger field of cities.

If, that is, they can stay viable.

Big-picture, 2024:

Search the globe for the cities that ultimately decided not to bid.

Toronto, which this summer staged the Pan Am Games? Nope. Too much money, not enough political support, the mayor announced.

Durban, Cape Town or Johannesburg, South Africa? Not ready for prime time.

Baku, site earlier this year of the European Games? Ditto.

Doha? Which ran for 2016 and 2020? Not this time. Politics. Bach noted without further comment that Doha "obviously decided not to take part in this invitation phase."

What's obvious is that it is far easier for Bach -- 2024 is his first Summer Games bid cycle as IOC president -- without Baku or Doha.

So that leaves, for now, five.

Hamburg, though, is facing a November referendum. No one can muster any degree of confidence that voters will give it the go-ahead to keep on until the IOC decides the 2024 race, in September 2017; the $51-billion figure associated with the 2014 Sochi Games scared numerous western European cities out of the 2022 race.

As Bach noted without comment on Hamburg itself, the IOC is interested in a "culture of welcome," a city where "the population is clearly supporting the Olympic Games and is welcoming the athletes."

Rome bid for the 2020 Games, for a short while, until the national government said, uh, wait, this Olympic thing costs entirely too much. Now Rome is back. With a campaign budget, announced last month, of 10 million euros, about $11 million. That is laughably low. Paris is figuring about 60 million euros, $63 million, and that’s probably not enough.

Budapest? Great city. Fantastic to visit. Not a realistic chance of winning, and indeed this 2024 effort might well be seen as a trial run for 2028 or beyond. It states the obvious to note that the migrant crisis enveloping Hungary, and for that matter a great deal of Europe, with seemingly no solution in sight, has made Budapest’s already dim chance for victory that much more remote.

How the migrant crisis affects Hamburg, if it gets past the referendum, as well as Rome? No one knows.

"This humanitarian challenge is going beyond Olympic candidatures," Bach said. "While we speak, political leaders in Europe and in the world are discussing how to address this great humanitarian challenge. I hope they will come together to a solution which in the end does not only address this challenge with a solution for this very moment but that, together, they are looking to a solution which allows these refugees to live at home in peace and prosperity. I think this is the real challenge."

With all that, and this is hardly a secret in select Olympic circles, that leaves Paris and LA.

It is fact that the Summer Games have never been away from Europe for more than 12 years. The most recent Olympics in Europe? 2012, London. The 2016 Games will be in Rio de Janeiro, 2020 in Tokyo.

Does that suggest Paris will be the slam-dunk winner?

It might be logical enough, indeed, except for what is really the central point about 2024 to keep in sight:

This race is, from the get-go, all about the United States.

Though the IOC will go to Asia for three straight Games after Rio -- Pyeongchang 2018, Tokyo 2020, Beijing 2022 -- there are no 2024 Asian bids. Over the next two years, expect many, many reports -- they started already Wednesday -- about how this is actually Europe versus the United States: that is, LA against the other four.

That is not it.

This 2024 race is, plain and simple, a referendum on the state of the United States within the International Olympic Committee.

By 2024, it will have been 28 years since the Summer Games were staged in the United States — in Atlanta, in 1996 — and 22 years since the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City.

The IOC doesn't subscribe to a rigid rotation. At least in theory. In practice, it's apparent the United States is due. Overdue, actually.

Plus, there is the simple matter of NBC’s $7.65 billion investment in the Games, from 2021 through 2032. To be clear: the network does not get into the bid game. But it's also the case that at appropriate moments the IOC acknowledges the American contribution to the Eurocentric movement.

New York lost in 2005 for 2012. Chicago lost in 2009 for 2016. If Los Angeles loses in 2017 for 2024, the IOC will have burned through the three biggest cities in the United States.

Boston is not going to bid again, perhaps ever, and certainly not in any of our lifetimes. San Francisco can’t win; if it could, you can be sure San Francisco would be the 2024 entry. Washington is often perceived, right or wrong, as the seat of American imperial power; no way.

That would leave the likes of Dallas or Houston. Or joke bids such as Tulsa, Oklahoma. Again, not a chance.

If Paris doesn’t win for 2024, it can — and will — bid again.

Forget about Paris winning in 2024 as solely a way-back machine shout-out to the 1924 Paris Games. That actually might well be a point against Paris, which becomes super-evident if thought about for more than a second. If the IOC starts awarding Games because it’s the 100th anniversary of this or that, no other city in whatever race would stand a chance against the 100th anniversary candidate from Country X.

That 100th anniversary thing? Didn’t work for Athens for 1996. See Atlanta.

If LA does not win for 2024, there is no certainty of any sort the U.S. Olympic Committee would have the will, or be able to summon the cash, for another run.

So it’s Los Angeles, right?

Except: if LA puts forward a compelling case, you can be sure Paris will, too.

Even at the outset, however, it’s apparent both face intriguing challenges.

The Paris bid? Tony Estanguet, the triple gold medalist in canoeing who is an IOC member, is the newly anointed Paris 2024 co-president, along with Bernard Lapasset, the chairman of World Rugby. Etienne Thobois, the bid's chief executive, said Tuesday, apparently in a reference to the failed Paris 2012 and Annecy 2018 bids, “Politicians should not lead an Olympic bid and that’s a lesson to [be] learned.”


So who, now, is in charge of this Paris campaign? Estanguet? Lapasset? Thobois? The French Olympic Committee? Or, despite protestations that this is really a sports-led bid, is it the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo? The president of France, Francois Hollande?

In June, when the bid was declared, Hollande issued this statement: “The state will do everything to see this sports movement through and to support this bid, which will serve as a model in terms of the environment, economy and social protections.”


Further, with all due respect to the longstanding Olympic consultant Mike Lee and his London-based Verocom agency, how is it that the Paris announcement Tuesday came from Verocom instead of, from, you know, Paris?

As for LA?

The facile thing would be to go round and round about whether LA got put forward as a second choice.

LA is not a second choice. Instead, LA is the product of the Agenda 2020 reforms, which allows a national Olympic committee to figure stuff out before the formal submission date to the IOC, which in this instance was Tuesday. That's the "invitation phase" Bach was talking about.

The three real issues facing the LA bid, at least at this early juncture, are easy:

— One, the Olympic Village plan is not locked down.

Expect a lot of chatter about how it is going to cost a lot of money: $1 billion, according to the bid book.

That’s going to be, in large measure, third-party money, $925 million of it; the developer is not yet identified.

Are these problems?

Hardly. That's the sort of opportunity a shrewd business person would like to have.

The rules of the journalism business preclude us jackals of the press from getting in on the deals we report on. That’s an obvious conflict of interest. It’s also the case that journalists do not often make good business people. Nevertheless: you’d have to be an idiot not to see the extraordinary upside in a deal for new housing in housing-starved downtown LA, which even the New York Times has this year anointed the cool capital of the very people the IOC is so eager to attract, the younger-shading demographic.

Meanwhile, the IOC announced Wednesday it will contribute $1.7 billion to the winning 2024 committee for the organization of the Games. The LA bid had forecast $1.5 billion, the level of the IOC contribution to the Rio 2016 Games.

So the LA bid is already -- without doing a thing -- ahead on the organizing committee ledger by $200 million.

Bach said any of the five 2024 efforts "can be very confident" to "have a profit in their organizing budget."

 — Two, Bach has in the two years he has been IOC president visited roughly 100 heads of government or state. President Obama? A noteworthy no.

Within the IOC, Obama is remembered for a logistics-bending visit to the 2009 assembly in Copenhagen at which Chicago got booted, and his decision to politicize the U.S. delegation to the 2014 Sochi Games opening ceremony as a response to the Russian law banning gay “propaganda” to minors — selecting the tennis star Billie Jean King and two other openly gay athletes for the U.S. effort. (King ultimately made it to the closing ceremony; she was unable to attend the opening ceremony because of her mother’s death.)

Next month the Assn. of National Olympic Committees meets in Washington. This marks a major event on the Olympic calendar. It's unclear if the occasion will see Obama meet with Bach.

This, though, is clear: there will be a new U.S. president in January 2017, eight months before the 2024 IOC election.

— Three, Anita DeFrantz lives in Los Angeles. She, like her colleague Claudia Bokel from Germany, serves on the IOC’s 15-person, policy-making executive board.

It’s a clear conflict of interest for both to be involved in 2024, the kind of point the Agenda 2020 reforms should have addressed but don’t.

Bach, who is German, has made it expressly clear he will be studiously neutral in regard to Hamburg.

It’s thus straightforward logic that DeFrantz and Bokel ought to be made neutral as well.

At the same time, it’s unrealistic to expect that DeFrantz, and her wealth of experience — she has been an IOC member since the mid-1980s and is herself a bronze medalist, in rowing at the Montreal 1976 Games — ought to be sidelined completely.

Same for Bokel, a fencing silver medalist at the Athens 2004 Games and since 2012 chair of the IOC’s athletes’ commission.

For DeFrantz, who for more than two decades oversaw what is now called the LA84 Foundation, awarding millions in grants for youth sports in Southern California, the answer is simple: the creation of another legacy institution, patterned perhaps after World Sport Chicago, that she can chair or otherwise serve in a significant capacity. It can — should — be nationwide. That means she could — should — be freed to extol the virtues of the Olympic movement throughout the United States.

What to do about Bokel? That’s a Germany problem. If Hamburg sticks around that long.

Why by the Persian Gulf


KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait — Accounting for the sudden resignation a couple days ago of French ski legend Jean-Claude Killy, there are now 106 active members of the International Olympic Committee. As the IOC president, Thomas Bach, pointed out in a news conference Sunday morning, Arabic hospitality is known worldwide.

Maybe that is why a reported 41 IOC members gave up their weekend to come to Kuwait to attend the meeting of the 204-member Association of National Olympic Committees.

Or perhaps it is a signal of the considerable influence of Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah — who, among other roles, is the ANOC president — that some four of 10 IOC members came to Kuwait from around the world.

IOC president Thomas Bach and honorary member R. Kevan Gosper of Australia at Sunday's news conference

Here, among others: IOC vice president and Rio 2016 coordination chair Nawal El Moutawakel of Morocco. Executive board members Pat Hickey of Ireland and Gunilla Lindberg of Sweden.

IOC athletes’ commission chair Claudia Bokel of Germany, another executive board member.

Larry Probst, the U.S. Olympic Committee board chairman and new IOC member.

And many more influential personalities within the Olympic sphere — among them, SportAccord and International Judo Federation president Marius Vizer.

The Sochi Games closed just roughly five weeks ago.

The IOC executive board meeting, to be held in conjunction with the SportAccord conference in Turkey, goes down next week.

It’s not as if IOC members are — or were — lacking for opportunities to get together.

Yet here they were.

For ANOC, this was in fact something of a history-making occasion. On Saturday, it held a variety of commission meetings — that is, the first time its commissions were said to have had these kinds of meetings, all designed as a lead-up toward the ANOC general assembly this fall in Bangkok.

And then there was the pull of having Bach on hand as well.

“It’s a big honor to welcome the president of the International Olympic Committee here in Kuwait,” Sheikh Ahmad said at that same news conference.

Bach said, “We are having a broad discussion among all the stakeholders of the Olympic movement,” adding a moment later that the weekend involved “looking into the future and looking into the different roles of the stakeholders and ensuring the harmonious roles under the leadership of the IOC.”

Much of 2014, of course, is being devoted to what Bach has called “Olympic Agenda 2020,” a far-reaching review of what works — and what doesn’t — as the IOC and the broader movement, now past Sochi, regroups and looks toward Rio 2016, the 2022 Winter and 2024 Summer bid cycles and beyond.

Bach took a moment to note the “great success of the Sochi Games,” in contrast to the doom and gloom that preceded virtually all the talk beforehand.

Five bid cities are in the 2022 pipeline: Almaty, Kazakhstan; Beijing; Krakow, Poland; Lviv, Ukraine; and Oslo. Lviv must confront political upheaval; Krakow now looks set to deal with a referendum; Oslo is grappling with local challenges to long-held assumptions about who bears what responsibilities in the bid system.

How many of the five applicants will ultimately see it through to the 2015 IOC election in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, remains decidedly unclear.

A “candidature for the Games,” Bach said — reflecting on how the “great positive legacy” of Sochi is now “well understood by the respective cities and countries” — is a “great opportunity to transform a region and a society for the better.

“Therefore, I am not too worried.”

As for Olympic Agenda 2020, he laid out a timeline, apparently for the first time publicly, for getting to the IOC’s all-members extraordinary session in Monaco in December. There the issues will be debated and, presumably, decisions will be taken. Or, more likely, ratified:

— The special special email address set up to solicit suggestions from around the globe — — closes April 15.

— Working groups will convene, probably in June.

— July will see a summit of sorts, the presidents of the major stakeholders.

— In September, the results from the working groups and the “summit” will go to the IOC commissions. Bach is due to announce in the next few days the make-up of the 2014 commissions.

— In October, the commissions are due to make recommendations to the executive board.

— The board will prepare a document to be submitted to the extraordinary session, set for Dec. 6-7.

“This will give us a good opportunity, as the president has mentioned … to keep the values of the movement and the main ideals of the movement but also to develop the relationships,” Sheikh Ahmad said.

And if you want to know why more than 40 IOC members made their way this weekend to the Persian Gulf, there you have it.

Life is a relationship business. Especially in the IOC.

Who understands this principle?

Thomas Bach.

And the host for the weekend, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah. You had better believe he understands this is how things get done.

DeFrantz tries anew for IOC board

This election year, at its history-making session in September in Buenos Aires, the International Olympic Committee will elect a new president. It will pick the site of the 2020 Summer Games. It will also decide what sport, if any, goes on to the 2020 program -- a decision that may or may not involve wrestling. Or, perhaps, squash, karate, baseball and softball, or others. Beyond all that, the IOC will also, as it always does at its sessions, elect members to its policy-making executive board. Anita DeFrantz of Los Angeles is in the running.

Within the past few days, DeFrantz sent a note to her IOC colleagues announcing her intent to stand for election. It says, in part, "I hope that you will be willing and able to vote for me when the time comes."

DeFrantz had similarly announced an intent to run for an EB seat at last year's session in London. But shortly before the balloting she withdrew her candidacy. She said Wednesday in an interview, "I didn't think I had done the groundwork to have a winning outcome."

Anita DeFrantz, IOC member since 1986

This time, she said, "The stars are shining more brightly. It feels better. People know I have been serious about all my work. The work of women in sport has come to a very important point -- the point where we move forward."

As DeFrantz points out in the note to the other 100 IOC members, only nine others have now served longer than she has. She is only 60. Even so, she has been a member since 1986.

She is due to remain a member until 2033.

Her institutional memory -- both about the IOC and the U.S. Olympic Committee -- can be formidable.

Her dedication and commitment to the movement can hardly be unquestioned.

She is a True Believer, no apologies, and has been ever since the 1976 Montreal Games, when as a rower -- she would win a bronze medal -- she stayed in the Olympic Village, and saw with her own eyes how sport could be a force for changing lives by promoting the Olympic ideals. A dedication to those values has since driven her through service to the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games, the LA 84 Foundation, the USOC, the international rowing federation (which goes by the acronym FISA) and the IOC.

"It really is important," she said, referring to the Olympic movement. "It is amazing that it exists in this world It is a great privilege to be a keeper of that trust. I believe it is a trust for the world."

For emphasis, she said, referring to life in the Village at the 1976 Games, "That was where my life changed.'

To look around that Village and know that there weren't enough medals to go around for everyone there -- and, still, there was everyone, not just together but all together, from wherever. "It's a powerful thing," she said, "to live in an Olympic Village."

DeFrantz has for years played a key role in urging the IOC to move toward equality on issues involving women's rights, both on the field of play and -- increasingly -- in the executive suite. Since 1995, she has chaired the IOC's Women and Sport commission; last year, she helped lead an IOC convention on the topic in Los Angeles.

During the years that Juan Antonio Samaranch was president, DeFrantz served on the IOC executive board, from 1992 through 2001, as a vice president from 1997 through 2001. She was the IOC's first female vice president.

In 2001, at the IOC session in Moscow, she ran for the IOC presidency itself. She received nine of 107 votes -- coming in last in the field. Of course, Jacques Rogge won. His term ends in September in Buenos Aires.

In 2007, at the session in Guatemala City, she ran for the executive board. She received six of 92 votes. Again, last.

In Guatemala, she said, "I am stunned. I hope this is not something to suggest women can never be elected to the executive board again. I will remain stunned for a while."

Three women currently serve on the 15-member board: Nawal El Moutawakel of Morocco, Gunilla Lindberg of Sweden and Claudia Bokel of Germany.

It remains uncertain how many candidates ultimately will be drawn to run in September for the IOC board.

It will of course prove tempting for some to view DeFrantz's candidacy as a test of where the USOC stands in the aftermath of the resolution last year of the longstanding revenue dispute -- over certain broadcast and marketing shares -- that had strained relations between the USOC and IOC.

It's more apt, however, to view her candidacy as what it really is -- a measure of DeFrantz's standing and political skill after years all these many years within the IOC.

When Samaranch was president, she could command dozens of votes. But his time is years ago.

The Rogge years are almost over, too -- all 12, nearly gone without DeFrantz spending even one on the IOC executive board.

And, now?

"I have a great deal to offer," she said. "I wish to take responsibility at the executive level of this organization. I wish to share that."


Slow, steady and big-picture right-on

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- On the calendar of big happenings, the International Olympic Committee's sixth Athlete Career Program is not strike-up-the-band sort of stuff. And yet -- that it got underway here Thursday is, in its way, noteworthy indeed.

For it's the big picture that counts.

It marked the first time this forum had ever been held outside the IOC's Lausanne, Switzerland, base. And in concert with other recent conferences, it underscored the U.S. Olympic Committee's slow but steady effort at relationship building -- the strategy its senior leadership has for nearly three years now not just talked but walked to make plain that the USOC is, indeed and in deed, a good partner for the IOC and, beyond, the wider Olympic movement.

Ultimately, of course, the USOC would intend to leverage that goodwill in bidding again for the Games -- most probably for the 2024 Summer Games. It has appointed a committee to study whether to bid for the 2024 or 2026 Winter Games; an initial report is forthcoming next month.

A bid, though, and all it entails, is yet a long way off. The IOC would not select the 2024 Summer Games, for instance, until 2017.

For now, the work is in lower-key efforts such as the program here -- a forum aimed at answering the question that seems obvious but too often isn't until it abruptly dawns on an athlete at the end of his or her competitive career: now what am I going to do?

If, the IOC reasons, a structure is in place so that athletes can be thinking about that question in advance, and HR officers at major employers have it in mind that athletes are way more than dumb jocks and can bring something extra to the corporate arena, then that's worth promoting -- which it has been doing through Adecco, the Zurich-based concern, since 2005.

Through the end of 2011, according to the IOC and Adecco, the program had reached out to 8,000 athletes on five continents with training opportunities and job placements.

On hand in Lake Placid were some two dozen Adecco managers from around the world. The conference coincided with the first World Cup stop of the bobsled, skeleton and luge season --  a potential recruit base, of course.

"We can learn, we can share and we can also feel the Olympic spirit in what we are doing," said Patrick Glennon, Adecco's senior vice president for the IOC program.

Also on hand: at least five members of the IOC's athlete commission, including Claudia Bokel of Germany, considered by many a rising IOC star.

"It's the first time we have gone outside Lausanne," she said, a reference to the five prior career programs. "If we want to do outreach activities, we want to see different places in the world."

That sort of outreach has been a USOC hallmark since the start of 2010 -- when Larry Probst, the USOC chairman, and Scott Blackmun, the chief executive, started up as a team.

Three months before, Chicago had gotten thumped in the race for the 2016 Summer Games, Rio de Janeiro winning big. Thereupon the Americans realized they had to reframe their approach, concentrating first on relationship-building and then on resolving a longstanding revenue dispute with the IOC.

The revenue dispute -- which, understandably, drew big headlines -- got solved earlier this year.

In the meantime, quietly, the USOC has also been trying to play host to IOC and related conferences in a way that almost never happened in the years before.

Even before the 2010 change, the IOC came to Denver for an executive board meeting -- albeit in conjunction with the 2009 SportAccord conference, which was highlighted by politicking aimed at the 2016 Summer Games vote then just seven months away.

Since then, meanwhile, in October, 2011, the IOC's fifth "International Athletes' Forum" came to Colorado Springs. This past February, Los Angeles was the site of the IOC's "Women and Sport" conference.

Now this Lake Placid session.

Later this month, in Miami, there will be a best practices symposium for north and south American national Olympic Committees, along with a Pan-American Sports Organization executive committee meeting. Some 125 people are expected to attend.

In the same way that the USOC is not running the meeting here, it's not going to run the meeting in Miami. When you're genuinely part of a community -- in this case, the so-called "Olympic family" -- sometimes you simply open the door to the house and have a meeting, even if someone else is running it at your dining-room table. It's that elemental.

"It's just a mindset that we are one of 205 NOCs," Chris Sullivan, a senior USOC official, said here. "We are here to do our part."

Reedie to lead IOC 2020 evaluation

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?