Liam Morgan

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is hardly one to talk about conflicts of interest.

From the IOC at the top, down to the smaller organisations, they are everywhere in the Olympic world.

Let's not forget that IOC director general Christophe de Kepper remains on the Board of a centre led by IOC Ethics Commission chairman Ban Ki-moon, the very man who one day might be called upon to lead an investigation into him.

One member of the Executive Board which springs to mind currently occupies four high-ranking positions. The official in question is clearly competent and well-respected, but his wearing of many hats is hardly conducive to good governance.

Another sits on the board of an organisation which recently awarded a global conference to Russia, while at the same time serving on the Executive Committee of a body which is expected to bar the country from hosting major events.

The list of examples is endless and would take up the majority of this column if they were to be listed individually.

The long-running sage of Sebastian Coe becoming an IOC member is set to continue for a while longer ©Getty Images
The long-running sage of Sebastian Coe becoming an IOC member is set to continue for a while longer ©Getty Images

While there is little doubt World Athletics President Sebastian Coe's high-profile role in a global sports agency fits into that category, his conflict of interest is no worse than the others scattered throughout the Olympic Movement.

For Coe, this has, if you believe the IOC and its President Thomas Bach, prevented him from becoming a member of the IOC. Whether he wants it or not is irrelevant; for some, it is the reasoning which rankles.

One of his International Federation counterparts who was proposed for membership of the IOC by the all-powerful Executive Board is FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

Infantino, unlike Coe, passed an integrity check carried out by the IOC Ethics Commission - the same official who has been accused of having informal meetings with Switzerland's attorney general Michael Lauber, the man tasked with overseeing a criminal corruption investigation into FIFA.

The Swiss-Italian was also the subject of a probe from his own Ethics Committee before being cleared of wrongdoing.

While in some ways the IOC is right to exclude potential members with conflicts on the same level as Coe's - CSM Sport & Entertainment works with a number of bodies in the Movement - the lack of consistency, and inherent hypocrisy, naturally leads to speculation as to the real reason behind his continued omission from the list of proposed members.

It is widely known Bach and Coe have not seen eye-to-eye on certain topics in recent years, particularly the Russian doping scandal.

After all, World Athletics' stance, one that hardened last month with a warning the Russian Athletics Federation could be expelled after officials at the organisation were found to have obstructed an anti-doping investigation into one of its top athletes, has contrasted sharply to the individual justice over collective responsibility favoured by Bach and the IOC.

IOC President Thomas Bach said a continued conflict of interest was preventing Sebastian Coe from becoming a member ©Getty Images
IOC President Thomas Bach said a continued conflict of interest was preventing Sebastian Coe from becoming a member ©Getty Images

Coe, who has assured Bach that his role at CSM is mainly advisory and he is not involved in the day-to-day operations of the London-based company, claimed he had not actively pursued IOC membership to focus on cleaning up the mess left by disgraced predecessor Lamine Diack.

The IOC, in turn, was understandably waiting for Coe to be re-elected World Athletics President before considering adding the double Olympic medallist to its ranks.

Whatever you might think of Coe and his tendency to carry on with questionable roles which could conflict with his position at the helm of World Athletics - did someone mention Nike? - it seems the IOC may be using his CSM position as an excuse to keep him waiting a little while longer.

It will likely not matter if Coe addresses his conflict, as he has told the IOC he will within a couple of months, as he could yet become a member before Tokyo 2020.

But it remains frustrating how the IOC choose when to apply certain principles, while simultaneously ignoring them in possibly hundreds of other cases. 

If the organisation was consistent, however, there might not be many members left.

Hosting surfing at Paris 2024 in Tahiti takes reforms a step too far

When news of Tahiti's bid to stage surfing competitions at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris emerged, it appeared inconceivable that it may actually win.

As enticing a prospect as holding an Olympic event on a South Pacific island may be for the IOC and as a feel-good sporting story, its application should have been politely dismissed as soon as it landed on the table of the Organising Committee.

Instead, Tahiti, located just the 15,700 kilometres and a roughly 23-hour flight from the French capital, has become the leading candidate.

It is not unfair to label this possibility as ludicrous, and it is difficult to know where to start when considering the reasons why surfing should not be in Tahiti, nearly 8,000km east of Australia.

The distance from Paris, coupled with the limitations in the region, considerably outweigh the picturesque location and the conditions, believed to be among the best in the world for surfing.

Staging an Olympic competition in such a far-flung part of the world, difficult to get to for even those who live on neighbouring islands, also offers numerous logistical challenges for organisers.

Not only that, but there are countless suitable locations much closer to home for Paris 2024, including the likes of Biarritz, a regular host of major surfing events, and Bordeaux.

Tahiti is known for its excellent conditions and superb waves ©Getty Images
Tahiti is known for its excellent conditions and superb waves ©Getty Images

The Tahiti surfing proposal also contradicts the IOC's consistent plea to organisers that they protect and respect the experience of the athletes. Being so far away from the actual host city will make it feel like an entirely different event altogether, rather than part of what is supposed to be the grandest sporting showcase on the planet.

It is surely hugely more expensive to send a considerable amount of people to nearly as far away as is humanly possible than to host the event closer to Paris. And what about carbon footprint and the environment?

Some in France believe the move is political and designed to send a message that, despite the distance, Tahiti and French Polynesia remain an important part of the country.

This makes sense when framed in the context of an independence referendum in New Caledonia - another overseas special collectivity of France - in September of next year.

New Caledonia voted in favour of remaining in France in November 2018, by 57 per cent to 43 per cent, but the result may be closer this time around.

A penny for the thoughts, too, of the International Surfing Association, which has lobbied for so long to be part of the Olympic Games, yet could see its product at Paris 2024 shipped to the other side of the world.

Perhaps the IOC is at fault for offering host cities greater flexibility with where it holds its events, but Tahiti hosting surfing at Paris 2024 is a step too far. Or 15,700km too far, if you prefer.