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Paris, LA to host Summer Games

LAUSANNE: From left, Casey Wasserman, Chairman of Los Angeles 2024, Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles, International Olympic Committee, IOC, President Thomas Bach, Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris and Tony Estanguet, Co-president of Paris 2024, gesture, during a press conference after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Extraordinary Session, at the SwissTech Convention Centre, in Lausanne, Switzerland, yesterday. —AP

LAUSANNE: The International Olympic Committee agreed yesterday to award the 2024 and 2028 Games at the same time, effectively guaranteeing that Paris and Los Angeles will be the hosts. The French capital is tipped to stage 2024, with the California metropolis having hinted that it was prepared to wait four more years. The two cities were the remaining candidates for the 2024 Olympics, a contest that IOC boss Thomas Bach said created “a golden opportunity”.

The Olympic movement has had increasing trouble attracting prospective hosts given the soaring costs and taxpayer support required. Paris and Los Angeles mounted progressive, exemplary bids that would trim expenses by using existing facilities, the IOC said, making clear that it did not want to reject either candidate. Bach lobbied for a double hosting plan, which won unanimous approval from IOC members at a meeting yesterday in Lausanne, Switzerland. With the deal in place, the IOC now has a two-month window to negotiate with Paris and Los Angeles over which city will go first.

Bach said he wants a “tripartite agreement” before the IOC’s main annual meeting in Peru’s capital Lima on September 13, when a vote on the 2024 host had been scheduled. Immediately after the double hosting deal was approved, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and his Parisian counterpart Anne Hidalgo appeared on stage arm-in-arm to thank the IOC members, a clear sign that the desired three-way pact was achievable.

Delegations from the two cities-led by French President Emmanuel Macron and LA’s Garcetti-were in Lausanne to make fresh pitches to IOC voters. Paris has maintained a tougher line on the 2028 question, insisting it was focused narrowly on 2024, the centenary anniversary of the city’s last Games. “I am here to convey a message to say our people are ready to host these Games,” Macron told reporters. “After three failed bids we don’t want to lose a fourth one,” he said. Paris mounted losing bids for the 1992, 2008 and 2012 Games. The Los Angeles team did little to quell speculation it was open to 2028. “LA is ready to throw these Olympics in two months if we are asked, or two decades if it came to that because we have everything ready,” Garcetti said, while noting the city was still “competing for 2024.” Bid chairman Casey Wasserman reminded that Los Angeles had not given the IOC “ultimatums” over the 2024 question. The city last hosted the Games in 1984. “Working hard to get the Olympics for the United States (L.A.). Stay tuned!” President Donald Trump said in a tweet, without making reference to a particular year.

The Olympic movement has been stained by Games that erected grand multi-million dollar facilities that were left to crumble and rot, while the billions spent in public money offered no long-term benefit to the host communities. Los Angeles has stressed its near entire reliance on private funding while vowing to use the Games to broaden access to sports across the city, something it won praise for doing following the 1984 edition. While Paris has equally focused on leaving a positive legacy, Macron also highlighted the opportunity for France to rally around the “Olympic values” of tolerance and inclusivity, saying they were embedded in the country’s “DNA.” “It truly is a tale of two great Olympic cities,” said a report released last week by the IOC’s 2024 Evaluation Commission. — AFP


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