Rio 2016 Olympics: IOC must show benefits, says Thomas Bach
By David BondBBC sports editor
The Rio 2016 Olympics could be targeted by mass demonstrations unless the International Olympic Committee starts explaining the benefits of the Games to the Brazilian public, according to the front-runner to become the new head of the Olympic movement.
Thomas Bach, a 59-year-old German lawyer and former fencing gold medallist, is favourite in a six-way contest to replace Jacques Rogge as president of the IOC.
But at a time when many critics are questioning the costs of staging huge sports events, Bach has called for the bidding process to be reformed.
He said: "We could take a different approach by saying to candidates, 'How do you imagine sustainable Olympic Games in your city?', 'How does it fit with your development plan - with regards to transport, infrastructure and social issues?'
"Then you get a concept that really fits with the respective society and culture and not like now with bid books which are all the same and written by the same people."
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Bach's experience as a gold medal-winning athlete, lawyer and businessman have made him the standout candidate in an election which also includes:
Ukraine's former world and Olympic pole vault champion Sergey Bubka;
Singaporean diplomat and businessman Ng Ser Miang;
Taiwanese world boxing chief C.K. Wu;
Puerto Rican banker and IOC financial commission chairman Richard Carrion;
Denis Oswald, the former head of world rowing and the IOC official who oversaw London's preparations for the 2012 Games.
But while Bach is widely respected in IOC circles and seen as the most qualified candidate, he is not universally popular.
He has also been facing some difficult questions at home in Germany, where he is president of the German Olympic Committee.
Last week, a German TV investigation alleged his campaign was being backed by Sheikh Ahmed Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, a member of the Kuwaiti royal family and an incredibly influential Olympic powerbroker.
Sheikh Al-Sabah is head of the Olympic Council of Asia and President of the Association of National Olympic Committees and the German TV programme claimed he told them: "I am with Dr Bach to be the next IOC president… I do all things we can to help him."
Rogge's IOC legacy
"There is no doubt Jacques Rogge is handing over an Olympic movement in far better shape now than when he became International Olympic Committee (IOC) president 12 years ago."
Under IOC ethics rules, members are barred from publicly backing presidential candidates, or giving them external support.
Bach has also been under pressure over a far-reaching inquiry into state-sponsored doping in West Germany during the 1970s - a period when he was competing as an athlete.
Even though the German Olympic Committee initiated the study and he was not named in the report, Bach was forced to deny claims it could hurt his election chances.
Following the report's publication, Bach said: "My IOC colleagues know I initiated the study. They've known my zero tolerance policy on doping issues for decades. That's why I fear no consequences for the election."
Speaking to the BBC before the news of the doping report broke, Bach made it clear that, if elected, the fight against doping would be central to his presidency - especially after the positive drugs tests involving big-name athletes such as
Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell.
He said: "It is very disappointing to see these high-level athletes still trying to cheat.
"On the other side, you see the anti-doping system is working and we are able to catch the cheats.
"We have to take it in a realistic way. This fight against doping will never be won. Whenever you have human beings in competition against one another, be it in sport or other areas, you will have some who try to cheat.
"This is the real poison of a positive test. It's not about the cheat you catch. The poison is with this positive test you create suspicion on the clean athletes.
"There is no time for complacency. Every day you have to look at how it can be improved to ensure the credibility of the sports."
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