By Karolos Grohmann
MONACO (Reuters) - Potential bidders for the 2024 Summer Olympics will be invited for a consultation with the International Olympic Committee as early as next month, with the IOC looking to enforce new bidding rules quickly.
So far only Germany has officially announced it would submit a bid with either Berlin or Hamburg.
The United States are also very likely to throw their hat in the ring along with possible bids from Rome, Istanbul, Doha, Baku, Budapest, Paris and an African city among others.
The invitation phase, introduced as part of 40 recommendations approved by the IOC on Monday, aims to improve communication between the cities and the IOC with respect to their Games concept.
The Olympic body is desperate to avoid cities withdrawing midway through the campaign, as happened in the 2022 winter Games bidding process with four of six candidates dropping out over financial concerns or lack of public support.
"We intend to launch this invitation phase on Jan. 15 next year and contact all the national Olympic committees who are in discussion about a potential bid," IOC President Thomas Bach said.
"We will be very open. We will offer them either a meeting in Lausanne or send a technical delegation to the potential host city. This is not an evaluation. It's up to potential candidate cities to raise the topics they think would be worthwhile raising at this point in time."
The invitation phase is non-binding and the IOC aims to turn the procedure into a more city-friendly affair rather than a straightforward tender process.
The IOC has also approved changes to reduce the cost of bidding that can reach $100 million for summer Games.
German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) officials, who will name their candidate city in March, told Reuters the January date would not change anything for them.
It would mean going with both their concepts to the invitation phase which would also help them decide which one to pick, they said.
Bach also ruled out re-opening the 2022 Games race after a suggestion by IOC member Dick Pound, saying that Kazakhstan's Almaty and Beijing -- the only two left -- deserved to be where they are as they stayed in while others dropped out.
"You have always an advantage if you stay in competition. You cannot win if you don't stay in the competition," Bach said. Oslo, Stockholm, Krakow and Ukraine's Lviv have all dropped out.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Alan Baldwin)