As FIFA struggles to contain its burgeoning corruption crisis, Olympic leaders are preparing to meet at their headquarters about 100 miles (160 kilometers) down the road in Switzerland with a busy agenda of their own.
While the scandal engulfing soccer’s governing body is not officially on the agenda, it will likely be addressed during the two-day meeting of the International Olympic Committee executive board that opens in Lausanne on Sunday.
The IOC was rocked by the Salt Lake City bidding scandal in the late 1990s and emerged stronger after ousting 10 members and enacting a series of reforms. It is now watching closely as FIFA reels from the far-reaching bribery investigation that led to the decision of Sepp Blatter — who is also an IOC member — to resign as president.
“It’s absolutely important for FIFA to regain credibility for FIFA so I can only advise that they work hard at reforms and work hard on addressing these grave allegations,” IOC President Thomas Bach told Britain’s Sky News in Berlin.
The IOC board’s main talking point is expected to be the future of SportAccord following Marius Vizer’s resignation as president of the umbrella body for Olympic and non-Olympic federations. Vizer quit last Sunday after more than two dozen federations cut ties with SportAccord in protest over his attacks on the IOC and Bach.
The state of preparations for the next three Olympics in Rio de Janeiro; Pyeongchang, South Korea; and Tokyo will also be reviewed by the board, as well as plans to set up a “mourning area” in the athletes village in Rio.
Next Tuesday, less than two months before the vote, the full IOC will gather at the Olympic Museum to hear technical presentations from the two bid cities for the 2022 Winter Olympics — Almaty, Kazakhstan, and Beijing.
A look at what’s in store:.
FIFA AND BLATTER.
FIFA confirmed Friday that Blatter would not be attending the IOC briefing with the 2022 bid cities. About 90 of the IOC’s 100-plus members are expected to come. Considering the FIFA crisis and the fact that the meeting involves Winter Games, it’s no surprise Blatter is staying away.
Blatter has been an IOC member since 1999. He retains his seat as he continues to serve as FIFA president until a new election. However, he would lose his IOC membership next year in any case when he reaches the retirement age of 80.
The fate of SportAccord hangs in the balance following the ugly fight with Vizer. He stunned the Olympic world by publicly bashing the IOC and Bach’s reform program in a speech at the SportAccord convention in April in Sochi, Russia. Vizer faced a furious backlash from many federations that forced him to go.
The IOC is likely to distance itself from SportAccord and push for it to be completely revamped or scrapped altogether. There are already existing associations representing winter and summer Olympic federations and another for non-Olympic sports.
THE NEXT GAMES.
Organizers from Rio, Pyeongchang and Tokyo will be updating the IOC board. With the Rio Games just over a year away, Brazilian organizers will seek to reassure the IOC that they are on track, despite continuing concerns over water pollution and some construction delays.
The IOC will consider adding some disciplines to the Pyeongchang sports program. And Japanese organizers will report on plans for including a new sport or sports to the Tokyo Games, with baseball and softball still considered the most likely additions.
MOURNING THE DEAD.
The board will follow up on a decision announced in February to set up a special area in the Olympic Village in Rio for athletes to mourn the loss of family or friends, and to observe a “moment of reflection” during the closing ceremony to remember those who have died during any games.
Bach said the remembrances could include the victims of the 1972 Munich Massacre, in which 11 Israeli athletes and coaches died after Palestinian gunmen raided the Olympic village. Families of the victims have been pushing the IOC for years to include a moment of silence during opening ceremonies.
IOC members will hear first-hand on Tuesday from leaders of the 2022 bids from Almaty and Beijing, the two finalists in a troubled race that saw four cities drop out for financial or political reasons.
An IOC evaluation report issued last week detailed serious flaws with both bids, including lack of natural snow for Beijing and financial risks for Almaty.
The closed-door briefing could help sway IOC members one way or the other ahead of the July 31 vote in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in which Beijing has been considered the favorite.