By Michael Hann
LONDON, (Reuters) - Sporting governing bodies must do more to reconnect with local communities as this will attract cities into bidding for major events, Britain's former Olympic 1,500 meters champion Sebastian Coe said on Tuesday.
Oslo last week became the fourth city after Stockholm, Krakow in Poland and Ukraine's Lviv to pull out of the bidding process for the 2022 Winter Games because of the Norwegian government’s fears over the cost of hosting the event.
This year’s Sochi Olympics cost a record $51 billion and despite the International Olympic Committee offering an $880 million contribution to host the 2022 Games, only Kazakhstan's Almaty and Beijing remain as candidates.
Speaking at a sports security conference in London on Tuesday, Coe said the IOC and other sporting federations must have better lines of communication with potential host cities.
“One of the biggest challenges is the discussion around what is a cost and what is an investment,” Coe said.
“The current leadership of the IOC have struggled with this for a long time. Sochi was the catalyst because of the 51 billion dollars that got thrown around, but it is worth bearing in mind that there was nothing in Sochi, it was a summer resort.
“I think the challenge for the IOC -- and all the sporting organizations -- is reconnecting with local communities.
“This is a challenge for all sporting organizations. It is not a particular one for the IOC, although that has been showcased recently because of Oslo falling by the wayside.”
Coe, chairman of the 2012 London Olympic organizing committee, did admit, however, that potential hosts often have a lot of misconceptions around the bidding process for major events.
“I think there is also disconnect between what organizing committee think they’re being asked to do,” he said.
“The International Olympic Committee in my experience is a lot less prescriptive about what it expects organizing committees to deliver. This is one of the slight myths out there that the IOC is sitting demanding all sorts of things.
“One of the challenges we had in London was the view that the IOC demanded Olympic lanes, actually they don’t. If you read the guidance book, it says we want a transport system that provides position for the athletes, the spectators and the media.
“It’s up to the city to decide how to do that. The IOC aren’t sitting there saying you have to have Olympic lanes.”
With a decision yet to be made on what time of year the Qatar 2022 World Cup will be held, the 58-year-old Coe suggested sport's leading governing bodies must have more contact with one another in order to avoid conflicting schedules.
“We are going to have to have a global conversation that looks at the global sporting calendar,” Coe added.
“You cannot be left by powerhouse sporting organizations who say that under no circumstances can you stage your sporting event at this time of this year.
“It may be better to be more flexible around the bidding process and say we don’t want to stop countries that have climatic challenges in the summer months from staging sport.
“That way you give the rest of the world of sport some notice in order to change their schedule.”
(Editing by Ed Osmond)