The next big thing in sport, 2028 has jumped up to become a big battle ground for power after IOC voted in favor of Beijing ahead of a second hosting challenge from Italy.
Australia was the biggest loser of the vote with their insistence on a makeover for the event in the green and gold spotlight.
The country won a place in the 2024 Olympic bidding process but didn’t make it through to the second round, losing out to Paris.
But that was after they landed the coveted endorsement of a hugely popular figurehead — the self-proclaimed “Olympic Ambassador,” Rio de Janeiro.
And while he was seen as a thorn in the IOC’s side in 2016 and weighed down the political leadership in Australia, Tom Esslemont — the man who is spearheading the bid team next year — has sprung a surprise by announcing that it is going to be a three-horse race.
Not only will Australia and Italy be vying for the 2028 Games, the U.S. is going to throw its hat into the ring too.
According to a source connected to the country’s bid, Colin Kaepernick — the player who made headlines after he refused to stand for the national anthem in 2016 — will be one of the big themes in a bid which will focus on people trying to “stand up” to fight for racial equality.
“It’s an exciting year ahead for the Australian Winter Olympic Team and we’re looking forward to competing at the same venues we hosted for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games,” he said in a statement.
“Of course, our hearts and minds are always with Team Australia, so we will work hard to deliver a strong bid for our nation and, most importantly, our athletes.”
Aside from a contested door for the 2024 campaign, most eyes will be on the landmark decision on 2028 which will dictate the fate of global events after 2022.
The host for those two years has already been chosen with London the first city to be awarded an Olympics and then again four years later in Sochi.
Many see China’s status as a sporting powerhouse, but the New York Times reports that while it has enjoyed little opposition to hosting the Winter Olympics, several venues for some events will be more than 30 years old and potentially fall out of use after 2022.
At this stage, Italy remains the favorite to take on the two Asian nations, but — with a flag behind them that is possibly green and gold in color, rather than blue and gold — they are short of a lot of cash in preparation for 2028.
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin has suggested the country may be willing to include a financial contribution from the IOC for the 2028 campaign and a bid without a guarantee could face many setbacks.
The more popular selection of Rome, which is reported to be very close to securing a bid committee, could be one of the most important points of the day and observers are not taking for granted the fact that the Italian bid, as well as Wasserman Media Group, will be totally focussed on winning next time.
But either way, there is plenty of work to be done if the Russians want to host for the first time since Sochi — as they have said they intend to do — and they will need the sort of backing one could not discount given the country’s fraught position in international relations.
Last week a storm broke over Russian state broadcaster RT’s potential participation in the Games. The IOC said it would consider the case at its extraordinary meeting in Lausanne in January, when it will also discuss the proposed “decapitation rule” that would determine whether a Russian official is banned as a consequence of any criminal proceedings.
Some say that in the heat of the moment the IOC may have bowed to pressure from the sponsors that help fill their coffers at such a cost but there is no doubt that the hosts will hope that an Olympic issue which has beset the IOC since it awarded the Sochi Games to Russia in the summer of 2013 has not, in the eyes of many, reverted to type.