The release Tuesday of an updated agenda for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session to be held in Lima, Peru next week shows that IOC President Thomas Bach has all the players and pieces in place to finalize his Olympic bid dual allocation for 2024 and 2028 Games.
A week from Wednesday the IOC will make history as it simultaneously collects signatures from Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to lock in the two sports mega-cities as Olympic hosts spanning the next decade.
Both cities had been among five that were fighting for the chance to host in 2024, but after Hamburg, Rome and Budapest were forced to abandon their Olympic dreams, the remaining two cities along with President Bach reached an agreement that would allow both cities to win and host consecutive Games – Paris in 2024 and Los Angeles in 2028.
In the past few weeks the LA 2024 bid committee has transformed into LA 2028 and received most of the approvals required to shift the dates four years beyond the original plan. For the American city’s flexibility, the LA 2028 organizing committee will be granted certain concessions including an immediate advance in revenue payments to help fund youth sport in the city, and host city contract changes resulting in a greater potential to earn more Games revenue.
Only the formalities remain, to be played out at the Lima Convention Center next week.
But it appears that the IOC is anxious to get them taken care of and out of the way quickly, so it can get to other business including doping and ethics issues, Agenda 2020 and the election of new IOC members. The President of Peru will be on tap to deliver the keynote speech.
The event will be so low-key, the Session didn’t even earn a Session number – according to the agenda. Originally described as the 130th IOC Session, a name that still appears in places on the official Session website, that number was subsequently assigned to the July extraordinary Session scheduled to confirm the 2024 and 2028 double allocation. Assumptions that Lima would automatically be assigned 131 were misguided and the Lima meeting will be henceforth known only as “IOC Session Lima.”
It’s the first time that a city, let alone two, has been awarded the Olympic Games outside of a numbered IOC Session.
Host city elections used to be high-profile, full throttle all-day nail-biting events. In 2009 Air Force One arrived in Copenhagen with U.S. President Barack Obama for a quick presentation and meet-and-greet with IOC members to support Chicago’s bid. Other leaders such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Japan’s Shinzo Abe have also attended to make compelling statements. Elections have been attended by Royalty, champion athletes and other superstars who participated in thrilling presentations just moments before the final votes and heart-stopping announcement of the winning city.
Crowds of thousands gathered at locations across the globe, and millions more watched on television or online with fingers crossed, hoping to hear the IOC President read the name of their city from a card removed from an envelope.
Election days were so epic that there was no room to conduct any other Olympic business by as many as 100 assembled IOC members from around the world.
But, according to the IOC agenda for September 13 – election day – the siting of both the 2024 and 2028 Olympic Games will be conducted within a two-hour span. The highlight event of the Olympic quadrennial aside from the Games themselves, and times two, will be neatly sandwiched between two halves of coordination commission report reviews for future planned Olympic Games.
IOC members will get their lunch break, possibly another sandwich, while the two newly elected host cities hold press conferences.
Late Wednesday morning a Vice President’s Working Group will spend 20-minutes reviewing the complicated tripartite agreement among Paris, LA and the IOC that, if approved as expected, will permit the double-allocation. Then as a formality, the newly formed 2028 Evaluation Commission will spend 30-minutes reviewing its report on LA’s revised plans, responding to any questions.
Both cities will then be invited to make 25-minute presentations with no time allotted for member questions. In the past, bids have been given 45-minutes to present and a further 25-minutes to respond to questions.
After the presentations, IOC members are expected to quickly vote to ratify the tripartite agreement and that single vote will serve to award both cities with the Games. It would normally be at this moment that the auditorium would erupt in intense jubilation from the winning side along with burdening disappointment from the losing sides – along with parallel reactions from those following around the world.
But this time, it’s all business. Instead, the Mayors will quickly sign their respective Host City Contracts.
And with that business attended to, the topic will quickly change to the Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang next year. Appropriately, the real drama will be left up to the athletes at the Games.
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.