Photographer: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Paris Grips 2024 Olympic Bid, Setting Up Los Angeles Showdown

  • French Olympic organizers say ‘now or never,’ reject deal talk
  • IOC considering awarding Games to both Los Angeles and Paris

A leader of Paris’s 2024 Olympic bid has firmly rejected the idea of waiting until 2028 to host the Summer Games, telling the International Olympic Committee, “It’s now or never.”

“It’s not possible,” Tony Estanguet, an IOC member and co-chair of the Paris bid committee, told reporters in London. “Either the IOC family wants to choose Paris for ’24 or we will not come back for ’28.”

Paris and Los Angeles are the only two cities still bidding for the 2024 Olympics, and the IOC is considering splitting the difference -- awarding the next two games to the cities when the organization votes at its September meeting.

The IOC typically only assigns one Olympics at a time, but with fewer cities vying to host, its president, Thomas Bach, sees a chance to secure two good locations at once. That, however, would strip IOC members of the chance to exercise their influence in an election.

Paris has emphasized a technical problem that would make hosting in 2028 difficult. Its rights to the land proposed for the athletes village -- one of the centerpieces of the Olympics -- don’t extend beyond 2024. "The project is only possible and guaranteed for ’24,” Estanguet said. “Secondly, we still believe that we are the best partner for ’24. Paris is the right city, at the right time."

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has been equally cool on the idea of hosting in 2028. “We are competing for 2024, full stop,” he told Inside the Games, a trade website that is closely followed by the Olympic movement. “I would love to visit my friends in Paris in 2028.”

Paris has bid several times recently and hasn’t hosted since 1924. But Los Angeles is the latest offer from a country that is tremendously important to the IOC financially. NBCUniversal’s broadcast deal with the IOC contributes more than the total of the remaining global media deals for the Games. Six of the Olympics’ 13 biggest sponsors are U.S. companies.

Both cities have touted their existing infrastructure. Los Angeles has said it doesn’t plan to build any permanent venues and has pledged to spend no more than $5.3 billion. Paris has 95 percent of the existing infrastructure is in place, minus the athletes village, and has said it won’t spend more than 6.2 billion euros on the games and related construction.

Such eager hosts have been hard to find. Los Angeles, which last hosted the games in 1984, only entered the race after Boston pulled its bid following concern that local taxpayers would end up footing the bill for a sporting event that lasts a little under three weeks. The German city of Hamburg also withdrew following a poll of its citizens. Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi scrapped its plans upon being voted into office, saying the games “will bring only debt.”

The IOC also had only two cities to choose from for the 2022 Winter Games and picked Beijing over Kazakhstan’s Almaty.

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