Wednesday 26 July 2017

Paris' hopes of staging 2024 Olympics grows as Los Angeles appears to settle for 2028

Illustration Logo Olympics Games Paris 2024 and the monument Eiffel Tower during Paris 2024, Olympics Games in street for the city's candidacy for Summer Olympics on June 4, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo by Johnny Fidelin/Icon Sport)
Illustration Logo Olympics Games Paris 2024 and the monument Eiffel Tower during Paris 2024, Olympics Games in street for the city's candidacy for Summer Olympics on June 4, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo by Johnny Fidelin/Icon Sport)

Matt Slater

The leader of Los Angeles' bid for the 2024 Olympics appears to have conceded defeat to Paris - with the Californian city seemingly guaranteed to stage the 2028 Games instead.

The two cities are the only candidates left in the race for 2024 after rival bids from Budapest, Hamburg and Rome withdrew. Los Angeles itself was a late replacement when original American option Boston pulled out.

Concerns over this apparent lack of interest in staging sport's biggest event, as well as years of bad publicity about spiralling costs and unused venues, has led the International Olympic Committee to consider taking advantage of these two strong bids by giving them a Games each.

Confirmation of the legality of that option is expected on Friday but it seems the behind-the-scenes talks are well advanced and Los Angeles is ready to let Paris go first.

In a long, written statement, Los Angeles' bid chairman Casey Wasserman wrote: "LA 2024 has never been only about LA or 2024.

"Even when the issue of a dual award for the 2024 and 2028 Games was initially raised, we didn't say it's 'LA first' or it's 'now or never' for LA: that sounds like an ultimatum.

"We could have used that strategy but we didn't because we thought it was presumptuous to tell the IOC what to do and how to think. We're better partners than that.

"It has always been our contention that LA 2024 had to make as much sense for the Olympic movement as it did for the people of LA. And we've stuck to that premise."

He continues by underlining his bid's commitment to the Olympics and highlighting its strengths, most notably the fact that it requires no public funding and all the facilities are either built or being built anyway.

But Wasserman, the founder and chief executive of a leading sports agency, concludes with a statement that can only be taken as an admission that a deal has been done.

He wrote: "We don't believe in ultimatums - we believe in partnership; that's why we are willing to look beyond ourselves and ask the question 'how can LA best serve the long-term needs of the Olympic and Paralympic Games?'"

This will delight IOC president Thomas Bach, who has championed the idea of a dual award, as it would avoid upsetting one major Olympic power or another and give the Olympics 11 years of relative stability.

For Paris, this is also a major relief, as the bid has pinned its hopes on marking the centenary of its last Games in 1924 and ending a run of three previous failed bids, most recently in 2005 when London came from behind to beat the French capital.

Paris has also claimed it has to go first as the site it has earmarked for the Olympic Village will not be available for redevelopment after 2024.

There is another positive for all concerned in letting Paris have 2024 and LA 2028, as controversial United States President Donald Trump, an unpopular figure with many in the Olympic family, will no longer be in office.

And after Chicago's bruising defeat to Rio in 2009, American athletes, broadcasters and sponsors can look forward to a home Games again.

The traditional vote to decide between the bidders is still scheduled for the IOC Session in Peru's capital Lima in September but that is looking like a formality.

Press Association

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