There will be no clash between the 2022 Winter Olympics and the controversy-plagued World Cup finals to be hosted by Qatar the same year, International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach told the BBC on Monday.
Bach, who was elected to succeed Belgian Jacques Rogge in September 2013, said he was confident FIFA president Sepp Blatter would stick to his pledge that the finals, which are due to be switched from the searing heat of June and July, would not take place in January and February when the Winter Games are pencilled in for.
“I have no reason not to believe (Blatter),” the 60-year-old German told the BBC.
“He made it very clear that a clash of these two great events is in nobody’s interest.
“And therefore his clear commitment was, and is, that there will not be such a clash.”
Bach, whose 2020 programme for taking the Olympic Movement forward will be debated by the IOC members in Monaco next week, said if there was a clash it would not be good for either the Olympics or football.
FIFA have been eying either hosting the finals in January and February or November and December, with UEFA president Michel Platini among those voicing a preference for the former.
“A clash would be bad for the international audience who would have two major sports programmes broadcast worldwide, so the public’s attention would be divided,” said Bach.
“Also for the sponsors, there are some that are common to Fifa and the IOC. To manage these two kind of programmes at the same time would be very difficult, so in the end there would be no winners.
“The athletes and the players would not get the attention they deserve, and for all the other sponsors and broadcasters being involved it would be very, very difficult to manage.
“It’s in the mutual interest that this is not happening and we have this commitment.”
– impossible to move –
Bach, who wants to make the Games more affordable, and encourage more flexibility over bidding and choice of sports, said that it was virtually impossible for them to move the Winter Olympics dates.
“Our dates, they are clear. We are committed to the future organiser (Beijing or Almaty) and the Winter Games in particular you need to adapt to the weather conditions in a country so there is no real room to manoeuvre,” said Bach.
“There is a situation which is not easy for football, and reading recent statements by the secretary-general and president of Fifa they realise that their situation at this moment is not the easiest one, and I think they will address this and hope they will address this at their next board meeting.”
Bach, who won a team fencing Olympic gold medal in 1976 for the then West Germany, said FIFA needed to make the report into the corruption allegations, surrounding the awarding of the 2022 finals to Qatar and the 2018 edition to Russia, public as soon as possible.
Despite numerous calls to publish the report compiled by American Michael Garcia into the allegations, FIFA have refused to do so claiming it would violate Swiss law, where they are based.
“I think nowadays you don’t get any trust anymore, you have to earn trust every day, and this is the way we approach it in the IOC and I’m sure that also FIFA will work hard in this direction,” said Bach.
“It’s not for me to give advice to FIFA over the media. They know what they have to do to get this inquiry to an end as soon as possible, and then present the results and the reason for this result to the public. I think this is crucial.” – Agence France-Presse