Paris and L.A. Offered Olympics After IOC Moves to Avert Crisis

  • 2024, 2028 hosts to be announced together amid waning interest
  • IOC will now enter negotiations with both L.A. and Paris

The Paris 2024 bid presentation before IOC members in Lausanne, Switzerland, on July 11, 2017.

Photographer: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

Paris and Los Angeles will be offered the summer Olympics for 2024 and 2028 after waning interest among potential hosts caused the ruling body to take the unprecedented step of awarding two games simultaneously.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach’s proposal comes amid a crisis at the Lausanne, Switzerland-based group after multiple withdrawals over cost concerns and public opposition left the two cities as the only bidders for 2024. The spiraling expenses of the games peaked with the $51 billion bill of Russia’s 2014 winter Olympics host Sochi, while Rio de Janeiro’s crisis-hit 2016 games led to further disquiet.

Paris is strong favorite to be awarded the 2024 games, 100 years after the French capital last staged the event, when the IOC membership meets again at an annual meeting in September. Like Los Angeles, the city is promising to be low on risk, and to cost less than recent games. The bids, which cost a combined $130 million, received rave reviews from an IOC panel following site visits in May. Los Angeles re-entered the race after the U.S.’s previous games candidate Boston pulled out following public opposition.

Bach said Tuesday the IOC would work with the cities to agree on a hosting order that would be the subject of a single vote by members in September. Without a deal, they’ll just vote on 2024 as previously planned.

“This is new territory and it’s a bit of a movable feast,” Michael Payne, who once led marketing at the IOC, said by phone. Payne, who has consulted for Los Angeles, said a double award allows the IOC “breathing space” to reform the bidding process.

Too Many Losers

Bach had said change was needed because there were too many losers, and suggested there will be a stronger pre-selection process before cities get to the candidate stage. Beijing won the right to host the 2022 winter games after all its rivals, with the exception of Almaty in Kazakhstan, pulled out before the final vote.

Ahead of Tuesday’s announcement, Paris and Los Angeles presented their visions to the members, with French President Emmanuel Macron lending his weight to Paris’s offer by traveling to Lausanne. He also hosted the IOC’s inspection team as the first visitors to the Elysee Palace following his election victory in May. Part of Los Angeles’s pitch has been to remind the IOC how it rescued the Olympic movement in 1984, when it stepped in to host the games when nobody wanted them, turning a profit for the first time.

U.S. President Donald Trump said in a Twitter post Tuesday that he’s “working hard” to bring the event to Los Angeles.

Resident Backing

In its report, the IOC commission said Los Angeles polled 78 percent support among the city’s residents, 10 percent more than a similar poll in Paris. Payne said that kind of backing meant the city could retain momentum through 2028.

The cities estimate the games will cost $6 billion, less than half of Rio’s price-tag. They will now enter discussions with the IOC, with the city that ends up with 2028 likely to request concessions, including greater financial support for waiting four more years.

A U.S. Olympics would be the first summer games in the country since Atlanta staged the event in 1996. Since then, New York and Chicago have both failed to convince the IOC’s membership of the country’s merits, even though it spends more on the games’ television rights and sponsorship than any other. NBC has committed $10 billion on the Olympics from 2018 through 2032.

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