By Duncan Mackay at the Radisson Blu Resort & Congress Centre in Sochi

Thomas Bach's "Olympic Agenda 2020" dominated the opening day of the IOC Session in Sochi ©Getty ImagesFebruary 5 - Major reforms to the process in bidding for the Olympic Games could be introduced if some of the ideas proposed at the opening of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session today are adopted.

It is clear that under Thomas Bach, elected President of the IOC last September to replace Jacques Rogge, there will be big changes to the process, although we still have several months to wait to discover what they will be.

The significance of the fact Bach chose to open this first Session under his Presidency with "Olympic Agenda 2020," his blueprint for the Movement and the running of the Games, was lost on nobody at this meeting held in a hotel on the shores of the Black Sea.

Following a minute's silence for Nodar Kumaritashvili, the Georgian athlete killed during a luge practice session at Vancouver 2010, a wide-ranging debate was held.

Among the ideas aired was allowing countries, rather than cities, to put forward bids and, most controversially reintroducing visits from IOC members, which had been banned 15 years ago in the wake of the Salt Lake City scandal, which led to the expulsion of ten members for accepting cash, scholarships and other inducements.

Those who spoke out in favour of restoring visits included Dick Pound, who as chairman of the ad-hoc commission had played a major role in dealing with the aftermath of the Salt Lake City scandal.

Pound claimed banning visits "the only plausible decision" at the time of the Salt Lake crisis but believes the IOC has moved on now.

"It is time to look at it again," said the Canadian lawyer.

"At least put that back on the table with an open mind."

He was supported by Israel's Alex Gilady.

"It's very difficult to look at the mirror and vote for a city you have never seen and never visited," he said.

"Videos can make everybody so pretty and so beautiful."

A miinute's silence was held before the start of the IOC Session for Nodar Kumaritashvili, the Georgian luger killed at Vancouver 2010 ©Getty ImagesA miinute's silence was held before the start of the IOC Session for Nodar Kumaritashvili, the Georgian luger killed at Vancouver 2010 ©Getty Images

But, not everybody was in favour.

Monaco's Prince Albert warned of the dangers of restoring visits.

"I think it's very risky even if it's done in a very organised and controlled fashion," he told the Session.

"The costs are significant for the IOC and it's also a lot of time for the bidding city to organise these visits and make sure everybody gets to see what they want to see. It's a very difficult issue.

"I think it's very risky to go down that path again."

There was more uniformity, however, among members about whether the Olympics should drop its 118-year policy of awarding the Games to cities rather than countries.

"One of the unique aspects of the Olympic Games is the unity of time and place," said Pound.

"It's not an event made in a television studio.

"It's what happens on the ground.

"We should be very careful about destroying that."

A set of proposals are due to be formulated that will be put forward for consideration at an Extraordinary Session of the IOC in Monte Carlo on December 6 and 7.

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