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New 2018 events and 2020 cost-cutting: Olympic agenda gains momentum By John Bagratuni, dpa

Germany
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Lausanne, Switzerland (dpa) - The new Olympic Agenda 2020 is gaining momentum, with new events introduced for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Games and venue changes allowing Tokyo 2020 organizers to save an additional 700 million dollars.

The executive board (EB) of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) agreed Monday to introduce the alpine ski team event featuring men and women, a mixed curling event as well as snowboard Big Air and speed skating mass start races for men and women in Pyeongchang.

The EB also approved venue changes for eight sports at the Tokyo summer edition, adding 700 million dollars to the 1 billion dollars around saved by other means such as using an existing sailing venue from the 1964 Games instead of building a new one.

IOC president Thomas Bach was delighted with the latest events as they are in line with the recently adopted Agenda 2020 which pushes IOC reform further to make Games cheaper, more sustainable and more appealing for a young audience.

"The application of Agenda 2020 is already resulting in savings of 1.7 billion dollars. We are confident there is room for a little bit more. We are still working on this to have further achievements," Bach said of Tokyo.

"It shows how Tokyo 2020 is embracing Agenda 2020, and the immediate results Agenda 2020 can bring for organizers of Games."

Bach also hailed the big marketing success of the "overachieving" Tokyo organizers, but still outstanding is a final solution on the cycling venue and on the construction of the National Stadium - where he urged a swift decision.

"We were very clear and asked the organizing committee to convey to the government to have issue solved as soon as possible," Bach said. "Tokyo has so many positive news, we don‘t want continuing discussion on the stadium overshadowing the excellent progress in Tokyo."

While the election of Pyeongchang in 2011 came too early to work according to the agenda adopted in December 2014, the newly chosen sports do at least help the Games have "a transitional programme," Bach said.

"The changes lead to a slight increase in women‘s participation but it is an increase. There are 50 events for men, 44 for women, and eight mixed," bach said.

"With a certain flexibility we are within the limits of Olympic agenda," he added in reference to now 102 medal events planned 2018 - two more than the proposed 100 and four more than Sochi 2014 as snowboard dropped the parallel slalom in favour of Big Air.

The EB also discussed Rio 2016, with Bach speaking of "significant progress" but ongoing water quality concerns, saying the "EB is watching the situation very closely and expects more information and reports (at the next meeting (in late July) in Kuala Lumpur."

The first host city chosen fully under agenda criteria will be either Beijing or Almaty at the IOC Session next month in the Malaysian capital.

The two will make presentations to the full IOC on Tuesday and Wednesday in Lausanne, a measure implemented after the first IOC reform in the wake of the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Games bribes for votes scandal, with IOC members prohibited from visiting bid cities.

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