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Nov 7, 2014 11:53 AM

IOC President Bach: 'The time for change is now.'

The Associated Press

BANGKOK (AP) Declaring "the time for change is now," IOC President Thomas Bach urged the world's national Olympic committees on Friday to support his reform program for shaping the future of the games.

In an address to the Association of National Olympic Committees, Bach laid out the importance of his "Olympic Agenda 2020" initiative, including changes to the bidding process and sports program and measures to reduce the costs of the games.

"The time for change is now," Bach said. "We have been discussing for one year. Now is the time for agreeing on something. If we want to preserve our values, we have to move. If we stand still, we are falling behind."

Forty recommendations were approved by the International Olympic Committee executive board last month and will be put to a vote at a special IOC session in Monaco on Dec. 8-9. The proposals include the creation of an Olympic television channel, while the specifics of the other recommendations have not yet been released.

"If we do not change when successful, we will be forced to change," Bach said. "We are now in the driving seat. If we do not take the opportunity to change, others will do it for us. If we miss the opportunity, then the window will be closed."

IOC director general Christophe De Kepper said the IOC wanted to "welcome diversity in bids but also to shape the bidding process as an invitation."

He said reforms included consideration of "how to reduce the costs of bidding and also the cost of hosting the Olympic Games."

This has become a key IOC priority in light of the reluctance of potential host cities to come forward for the 2022 Winter Olympics, seemingly scared off by the $51 billion price tag associated with this year's Winter Games in Sochi.

Several cities dropped out of the bidding process for 2022, leaving only Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan in the running.

Any changes in the bid process would go into effect for the 2024 Summer Games. Potential bids could come from cities in the United States, France, Italy, Turkey, Qatar, and South Africa.

De Kepper said a more flexible Olympic sports program was under consideration, removing restrictions on the number of events within each sport and allowing host cities to make proposals on which sports are included. That could lead to baseball and softball being included at the 2020 Tokyo Games.


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