An International Olympic Committee (IOC) 2024 bid evaluation report released Wednesday reveals 78 per cent across Los Angeles support the LA 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games bid while 63 per cent in Paris are in favor of the French project.
The overall reports for both cities are generally glowing with the Evaluation Commission highlighting that 97 per cent of venues in LA are ready-to-go and 93 per cent in Paris are built. Both cities have received strong political backing and are credited with their vast past experience, and exceptional plans for the Olympic experience.
Further poll numbers from an IOC commissioned poll conducted in February show 72 per cent in California and 64 per cent in the U.S. back the bid. Only 8 per cent in Los Angeles said they were opposed. An LA 2024 poll last year had revealed 88 per cent support of the bid.
In France, and across the Paris region the support of the bid is consistent at 63 per cent, however 23 per cent oppose the project in Paris. The pollster Sport Marketing Surveys Inc. said the confidence factor was 95 per cent at plus/minus 4.
The report indicates, however, that some challenges for both cities do exist.
The key differentiation between the two bids are plans for the Olympic Village where LA plans to leverage existing university residences at UCLA where Paris will construct a village as a by-product of a new housing development along the River Seine at Saint-Denis.
The report indicates it will be a challenge for Paris to carry out its plans for the Village as 30 per cent of the land still needs to be acquired – but it further elaborates suggesting that public authorities are empowered to accelerate the acquisition process. Details on coverage of any possible cost over runs still need to be worked out.
In contrast, the Commission lauded LA’s “tree filled” university campus Village plan describing it as “outstanding in all aspects” and “very low risk” adding that without needing construction there could be “greater focus on operations and service-level planning.” The report does indicate, however, that some gradients could be challenging for wheelchair accessibility.
Transport “challenges” indicated for Los Angeles in the report include limited coverage in the South Bay and Valley Sports Parks, and the “significant efforts” required to implement the Olympic Route Network to manage and reduce traffic.
The Evaluation report format changed radically for the 2024 edition, offering a 15-minute video by the IOC offering the value proposition of each bid, an assessment of the the key components of each bid including any challenges, and several technical documents including photographs and analysis from the Commission’s due diligence.
In the past, the report was comprised of a simple text and photo document. But with the likelihood that both bids will become host cities and partners of the IOC, the report has become more of a sales pitch for the organization.
“Members of the Evaluation Commission have used the terms ‘forward-looking’, ‘innovative’, ‘vibrant’, and ‘cool’ to describe the Los Angeles candidature, and ‘historical’, ‘cultural’, ‘iconic’ and ‘amazing backdrops’ for that of Paris,” said Chair of the 2024 Evaluation Commission and IOC Member Patrick Baumann in the report.
“However, whatever the description, it truly is a tale of two great Olympic cities. The two projects are different in nature, but each city presents a proposal which is genuinely authentic and reflects the best of what each has to offer,” he adds.
“Los Angeles is one of the most entertaining sports and leisure destinations on the planet; Paris has a history second to none.
“On any given day, people around the globe enjoy Hollywood offerings of great storytelling and showcasing technology, while at the same time they dream of visiting Paris, one of the world’s most dazzling tourist destinations.
“With the support, enthusiasm and passion of their citizens and athletes, Los Angeles and Paris have presented the best of their cities. And their best is as good as it can possibly get for the Olympic Games.”
The Evaluation reports were produced in May following consecutive three-day visits to Los Angeles beginning May 10 and Paris on May 14. Together with three volumes of bid books submitted by the candidates throughout the campaign, the Evaluation Commission team lead by Baumann were charged with assessing the suitability of each city to host the Games in 2024.
During the visits, Baumann said “it is almost impossible to go under 10 out of 10 [for both Paris and LA],” further commenting that there were “no major risks” and “mind blowing venues.”
Delegations from both Paris and Los Angeles, including Mayors Anne Hidalgo and Eric Garcetti, will be heading to the Olympic Capital of Lausanne, Switzerland for Tuesday’s bid city briefings to IOC members and other stakeholders. French President Emmanuel Macron is also expected to attend in support of his nation’s bid.
LA 2024 CEO Gene Sykes said of the report “all of us at LA 2024 will go into the Candidate City Briefing in Lausanne full of confidence after the Evaluation Commission’s endorsement of our Games Plan.”
“Now we look forward to sharing with the full IOC Membership our truly sustainable solution that encourages future cities to bid for the Games, engages the world’s youth and secures the long-term financial stability of the Olympic and Paralympic Movements.”
Paris 2024 Co-Chair Tony Estanguet reacted “we will use all of the points made in the report to continue to improve our work and we are very much looking forward to presenting our bid to the IOC Members in Lausanne next week.”
“We know that we have the right plan to move forward and we thank Patrick Baumann and the Commission for their excellent work.”
Last month the IOC Executive Board called for an extraordinary all-members Session to be held around the July 11 briefings to discuss its proposal to award both the 2024 and 2028 Games to LA and Paris, and to seek membership approval ahead of the official election scheduled for September 13 in Lima, Peru.
IOC President Thomas Bach can expect the plans to be rubber-stamped by his colleagues, leaving only the decision of which city will be chosen to host first in 2024 – and the method of making that choice – to be worked out. Paris is the wide favourite to get the nod for the earlier edition because its plans, French officials say, are only available in 2024 due to land availability for the Olympic Village.
A panel of four IOC Vice Presidents is expected to reveal further details of its proposals during the Session.
More to come as this story develops.
A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.