by Heidi Jen
The Olympic Bidding Process
1. July 15, 2003: Before the bid submission deadline, National Olympic Committees interested in bidding for the 2012 Games submit their candidate city names to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
2. May 18, 2004: Based on scored technical evaluations, bid contenders are reduced to London, Madrid, Moscow, New York, and Paris.
3. November 15, 2004: Candidate cities submit their bid books with their Olympic plans to the IOC.
4. February/March 2005: IOC bid evaluation commission conducts three-day site tours for each individual candidate city.
5. April 2005: At the SportAccord conference in Berlin, all five bids outline their plans to IOC members.
6. June 6, 2005: The IOC evaluation commission issues its final technical report based on bid books and site visits.
7. July 6, 2005: The five cities make final 1 hour presentations to the IOC members at the Raffles City Convention Centre at the 117th Session of the IOC in Singapore.
8. Each of the 100 IOC members eligible to vote select one city through an electronic secret ballot in the first round of balloting.
9. If after the first round no city has a 50% plus 1 majority of the votes, the city with the fewest votes will be eliminated and further rounds will be held until one city receives a majority.
And the Winner Is…London!
The selection of London as the next host for the 2012 Summer Olympics was a tremendous occasion for the British, marking London’s first successful bid to host the quadrennial international games. The 1908 Olympics were held in London due to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in the planned host city of Rome; the 1944 Olympics, of which London was the anticipated host, was cancelled as a result of the start of World War II; leaving the 1948 Olympic Games as the only other year London has served as host.
The British, reassured and encouraged by Mayor Ken Livingstone, are anticipating the influx of far-reaching benefits for London and Londoners that the 2012 Olympics will bring not just to the capital city, but also to the rest of the UK. Common to all previous hosts and vying hosts for the Olympic Games is the attraction to the central appeal of the worldwide event – the creation of jobs, growth of tourism and revenues, and solidification of national unity and inspiration. As one of the foremost cultural capitals of the world, the Olympic Games serve as an opportunity to showcase all the cultural offerings of the capital to an international audience. London plans on doing so through a four-year cultural festival starting at the end of the 2008 Beijing Games and continuing on during the 2012 London Games. The pan-English festival will celebrate all elements of the vibrant cultural life of the UK and its capital through events, exhibitions and educational activities.
Among the most important benefits London 2012 will bring is the development of the Lower Lea Valley area in East London, characterized by poor housing and high unemployment, making it one of the most deprived areas in the United Kingdom. The London Development Agency estimates that the Games will leave a legacy of up to 9,000 new homes in the Olympic zone, providing not only housing but thousands of jobs and volunteer opportunity to Londoners for years before the Games. In addition, the hospitality industry in London would undoubtedly improve to meet or even surpass the highest of standards.
Determined to become the “greenest” Games in history, London is striving to
effect substantial environmental change by reclaiming contaminated lands, one of
which is the Lower Lea Valley. Their goal is to renovate underdeveloped,
contaminated or vacant lands into the proposed Olympic Village. The Games will
also provide the chance to implement environmentally friendly policies such as
the minimization of waste, pollution and negative impacts on London’s wildlife
habitats. London aims to make the 2012 Games a completely ‘car-free event’,
barring private car access to the Olympic venues (with the exception of disabled
drivers) as part of a well-planned, integrated transport and environmentally
friendly strategy for the Games.
Another indirect benefit of the Games is the increased participation and enthusiasm in all levels of sports within London and the United Kingdom. Some of the sporting facilities built for the Olympic Games like the Olympic Stadium, the Aquatics Centre, the Velopark, the Hockey Centre and the Indoor Sport Centre will be kept after the Games for sports and community use, providing much-needed opportunities for competitive and recreational sport for Londoners and improving London’s chance to host international sporting events in the future.
Aware of the potential for terrorist attacks at such wide-scale international events, the Mayor assures that London is well prepared for an emergency precisely because the prospect of such a high-profile sports event will fuel more work and resources to make the city even more secure before, during, and long after the Games through strengthening of its Metropolitan Police Service. The city intends on spending more than $30 billion on London’s transportation system prior to 2012 on expansion, refurbishment, and modernization of existing railway systems.
The beauty of the changes that London must undertake in preparation for the London Games is that they are all consistent with the projected long-term plan for London as a whole. The Olympic Games simply serve as a catalyst that accelerates the city’s already existent plans to strengthen the transport infrastructure, enhance the physical environment, develop new housing communities, and create world-class sports facilities.
Recently, though, complications have arisen concerning the rising costs of the Olympic Games in London. The most recent figures show that costs could soar to £9 billion ($17.6 billion) – nearly four times the £2.35 billion ($4.6 billion) estimated by London during the bid process. The original £2.35 billion was to be paid by a public sector funding package which consisted of allocations from the National Lottery, the London Council Tax, and the London Development Agency. Since approximately one fourth of the Olympic infrastructure and construction was to be funded by taxes, heated criticism has recently surfaced against the government's handling of the games due to the fear of additional taxes on the British public. The Treasury and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport have yet to reconcile these inflating costs and financial predicament.
…But what about New York?
London beat out New York as well as the three other contenders for the 2012 Olympic bid because of one key element: strategy. London went into the bid process and presentations knowing which heartstrings to pull and exactly what would allow them to clutch the desired position as host. London’s bid committee had what is known as the “Coe Factor.” Lord Coe, Olympic legend who claimed double Olympic 1500m gold in both 1980 and 1984, used his charm and political savvy to sway his audience.
essential to Coe’s (and London’s) performance was the focus on youth and the
Olympic ideal. While New York gushed over the greatness of its city and Paris
its great beauty, London focused on its sports legacy for the children—and not
just the British children, but children around the world. With assertions like
"Our Olympics is all about looking after the children…Our children are our
future all over the world,” there is little doubt why London won the bid. Call
it cheap or call it smart, but, as one IOC voter admitted,
In addition to committed enthusiasm from Tony Blair and other influential domestic and international icons like Nelson Mandela and David Beckham, the idea of a compact, non-wasteful Games that utilized famous landmarks and sporting venues as well as provided innovative ideas for new national athletics stadium, aquatic centre and a velodrome was obviously appealing. Such factors in comparison trump New York in that State approval for New York’s Olympic Stadium plan was rejected in the midst of the bidding process in June 2005, leaving the city’s bid in chaos. The conflict was eventually ameliorated with a revised plan that moved the Olympic Stadium from West Manhattan to Queens that would be built by the New York Mets, but such a stadium was negligible when assessing the structures that London could offer.
Let’s face it, New York never really had a chance. As second to last place in the finalist bidding, New York fell far behind not just London, but Paris and Madrid as well. According to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, 2012 was not just the right time, but “the only time” for New York to host the Summer Olympics.