Members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) are gathering in Monaco for a crucial session to decide the way forward for the Olympic movement.
The 127th session of the IOC, set down for Monday and Tuesday, will discuss and vote on 40 proposals generated by the wide-ranging Olympic Agenda 2020 project, which has involved a year of consultation and discussion in the push to develop what the governing body is calling a strategic roadmap for the future.
The diverse proposals aim to introduce more flexibility in some areas of the Olympic programme, amid mounting concerns about the costs of staging the Games.
Some of the proposals have the potential to affect some of the less popular Olympic disciplines, especially those that are costly to stage.
One of the recommendations proposes that the Games move from a sport-based to an event-based programme, with regular reviews.
It proposes fixed limits for Games – 10,500 athletes, 5000 accredited support personnel, and 310 events for the summer Games – suggesting that the introduction of new sports or events might in the longer term cost existing sports their spot or result in a reduced competition programme.
The size limits proposed do not necessarily restrict the Games to the current 28 sports.
There is also a drive to reduce costs and complexity, and the push for more flexibility in organising Games would allow hosts to propose the inclusion of sports that reflect local character and interests.
The recommendations include a new philosophy around the bidding process, shaping it more as an invitation to stage the Games, with the opportunity for sports to be held outside the host city and even in other countries.
IOC president Thomas Bach described the 40 recommendations as being like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
“When you put them together, a picture emerges that shows the IOC safeguarding the uniqueness of the Olympic Games and strengthening sport in society.”
Bach, commenting on Saturday, just two days before the IOC session, said: “I feel like an athlete before a final.
“There has been training and preparation for a year, and like an athlete longs for the start of the competition, I look forward to the start of the Session. I feel like the moment has come for the real thing to happen. It is not training anymore, it is decision time.”
On potential changes to the Olympic programme, the IOC President said: “It will be the responsibility of a host city to propose the inclusion of one or several new events.
“If we are talking about an event that belongs to a sport which is already on the Olympic programme, the decision on the inclusion will be made by the IOC Executive Board.
“If the event belongs to a sport that is not featured in the programme, then the decision will fall under the remit of the Session.
“The purpose of the exercise is to allow host cities to reflect even more on their sports culture. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. The idea is to give more flexibility to cities and allow more creativity.”