Bach urges Buenos Aires to mount 2032 Olympics bid after 'outstanding' youth games
By Jonathan Rest
Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, today talked up a bid from Buenos Aires to host the 2032 Olympic Games, claiming that nobody within the IOC would have "any doubts" about the Argentinian capital’s capabilities after staging a record-setting Youth Olympics.
The third edition of the summer Youth Olympics closed in Buenos Aires today, with organisers announcing that 1 million spectators had attended the 13 days of competition.
Bach was effusive in his praise for the city’s hosting, claiming the 2018 YOG had “exceeded all our expectations.”
Asked what should be next for Buenos Aires, Bach – who was elected IOC president in the city five years ago – said: “After this outstanding success of this YOG, nobody could have any doubt that Buenos Aires could be a great host also for the Olympic Games.
“It is up to Argentinians to decide whether they want to be candidate or not [for 2032]. What I can say is, after the outstanding success of this Youth Olympics, I could not see anybody in the IOC having any doubts about the capability of Buenos Aires to organise an excellent Olympic Games.”
On the eve of the games’ opening ceremony on 6 October, Mauricio Macri, Argentina’s president, said the country would consider launching a future Olympic Games bid.
Sitting next to Bach, he told the IOC’s Olympism in Action forum: “Obviously once this wonderful event is finished we will have the chance to start thinking about trying to organise Olympic Games.
“It is obviously much more difficult.”
Despite Argentina’s recent deal to receive $57 billion from the International Monetary Fund, which is contingent on spending cuts and tax hikes, Macri argued: “In this moment in which we live with a lot of tensions and the need to build new bridges, sports has a unique power to build bridges more solidly than those of steel.”
Buenos Aires bid unsuccessfully to host the 2004 Olympic Games, which were awarded to Athens.
The concept of and need for the Youth Olympic Games, a brainchild of Bach’s predecessor Jacques Rogge and which debuted in Singapore in 2010, has been questioned by many within the Olympic movement, but Bach’s championing of Buenos Aires 2018 appears to have guaranteed their place on the sports calendar for the foreseeable future.
The IOC president hailed the games as being “more urban, more female [there was full gender equality], more inclusive than any edition of any Olympic Games before, not just Youth Olympics.”
He continued: “These youth games were youth games both on and off the field. We have seen so many young spectators, young families enjoying sport. The park concept, making the games more urban, was a massive success because it realised what it was meant to: bring sport to the people.
“Sport is nowadays in competition with so many other options for leisure activities that we cannot go only to the stadia any more. We can’t survive with the people coming to us, travelling, buying tickets, looking for car park spaces. They have better options. We have to go to where they are.”
This year’s Youth Olympic Games featured new sports (breaking, sport climbing, roller sports and karate), plus a range of new disciplines and events such as BMX freestyle, kiteboarding, beach handball, futsal and acrobatic gymnastics.
Some of the new sports and disciplines - sport climbing, BMX freestyle, karate - premiered in Buenos Aires before they are set to feature for the first time at an Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020.
Bach continued: “We would not have dared to dream of such a success. They were meeting our expectations when it came to the messages we wanted to send - more inclusive, more urban, more female - but for all the rest, the atmosphere, attendances, quality of the village, it far exceeded our expectations.”
The next summer Youth Olympics will be staged in Dakar, Senegal, the first IOC event to be held in Africa.