By Duncan Mackay at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne

Thomas Bach was joined by a group of top athletes as he launched his Agenda 2020 proposals ©IOCMore flexibility in bidding, including joint bids from countries, and the opportunity for host cities to propose sports to feature in the Games, were among the main themes when International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach revealed the 40 proposals that make up Olympic Agenda 2020 here today. 

The Agenda, described as a strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement, which will be discussed and voted on by the full IOC membership at the 127th IOC Session on December 8 and 9 in Monaco.

Following a bid process for the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics marked by the withdrawal of several European cities amid criticism of the cost of staging the Games, it is no surprise that making bidding more attractive again dominates the Agenda. 

"We have to look into the future and try to address the challenges which may arise in the future and the challenges we have already now," Bach said here. 

"We want to show with this procedure that the IOC is opening up, that we are opening a window and we want to have fresh wind coming in."

Bach claimed he wanted to "shape the bidding process as an invitation" and for the IOC to be seen as "more of the partner of the bid cities".

Potentially the most far-reaching change could be that future Olympic host cities will be allowed to stage events outside the city or "in exceptional cases", even outside the country for reasons of sustainability.

Until now joint bids were allowed only for the Winter Olympics, but only for geographical reasons and were usually discouraged. 

"We want to give smaller countries to host the Games," said Bach, but who warned compactness must still be respected.

"We do not want an Olympic Games scattered around the whole country. 

"The [travelling] distances must still be manageable and feasible."

Thomas Bach launched the proposals in his Agenda 2020 to a specially invited group of athletes at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne ©IOCThomas Bach launched the proposals in his Agenda 2020 to a specially invited group of athletes at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne ©IOC

The bid process is also been designed to be made cheaper and more transparent.

This will include encouraging cities to promote the maximum use of existing and temporary facilities and demountable venues. 

Cities will also be limited as to the number of international meetings that candidates will be allowed to make presentations and for the IOC to incur the costs in relation to the visit of the Evaluation Commission. 

Publication of the Candidature File is to be in electronic format only.

The IOC is also to publish the Host City Contract, including details of their financial contribution to the cost of hosting the Games. 

One of the key recommendations is for the introduction of new sports or events that could be used for specific Games to maximise the Olympics reach and exposure in that country. 

The first sport set to benefit is expected to be baseball and softball, widely expected to be added to the programme for Tokyo 2020. 

"Now the door is open [for sports]," said Bach. 

"The IOC by itself can also take a decision that we are adding this or that event.

"It only has to happen before the city is elected so that candidates know what they have to deal with.

"Any changes after can happen in agreement with the host city."

Other key proposals from Bach include non-discrimination on sexual orientation in the Olympic Charter, strengthening of good governance and ethics and protection of clean athletes.

As widely anticipated there is also a proposals to set-up an Olympic TV channel, part of bigger digital engagement to engage with youth "on their terms."

There is no change proposed to the age limit of 70 for IOC members.

But, in a limited number of cases - five - a one-time extension of a member's term of office may be made for a maximum of four years.

Claudia Bokel, chair of the IOC Athletes' Commission, was among the first to hear from Thomas Bach about his new Agenda 2020 proposals ©IOCClaudia Bokel, chair of the IOC Athletes' Commission, was among the first to hear from Thomas Bach about his new Agenda 2020 proposals ©IOC

The proposals, under discussion since they were launched last year following the election as IOC President in September 2013, were launched by Bach at a special event attended by a number of leading athletes.

These included Germany's Claudia Bokel, an Olympic silver medallist in fencing who is now head of the IOC Athletes' Commission, and Koji Murofushi, the Athens 2004 hammer champion who is now the sports director of Tokyo 2020.

Among the new ideas is to introduce an additional criteria into the current 14 Candidate City evaluation document, the Athletes' Experience, where bidders must demonstrate how they will keep the competitors at the centre of the Games. 

"These 40 recommendations are like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle," said Bach.

"When you put them together, a picture emerges that shows the IOC safeguarding the uniqueness of the Olympic Games and strengthening sport in society.

"Over the past year many people have asked me why there is a desire to make changes.

"After all, they say, the Olympic Games, the IOC, and the Olympic Movement have enjoyed many successes and we are in a very good position.

"My answer is that we are now in the position to drive change ourselves rather than being driven.

"We have to take leadership with Olympic Agenda 2020.

"We have the opportunity, and we must seize the moment - now is the time for change."

Read Olympic Agenda 2020: 20+20 Recommendations here.

Read Olympic Agenda 2020: Context and Background here.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]