The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is reportedly negotiating with French and U.S. officials to reach an agreement that would see the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games awarded to Paris, sources familiar with the situation told The Wall Street Journal.
A report published by the newspaper Tuesday said that representatives of Los Angeles’ bid to host the Games were considering unspecified IOC incentives that would make waiting an additional four years to host the 2028 Games instead, worthwhile.
Paris and Los Angeles are all that remain of a five-city race to host the Games in 2024 after Hamburg, Rome and Budapest were all forced to withdraw due to loss of public and government support. The loss of three cities vying for the 2024 Games after four of six cities withdrew from the 2022 Winter Games race has put IOC officials on alert fearing that there will be little interest in hosting future Games.
But an IOC evaluation team inspected both cities in May giving them glowing reports, and IOC President Thomas Bach said earlier in the year that the traditional process produced “too many losers,” so the IOC Executive Board will meet June 9 to discuss the possibility of awarding both the 2024 and 2028 Games to LA and Paris at the same time.
Both cities, however, have remained adamant that they are only bidding for 2024. Paris says that because a housing project that would first become the 2024 Olympic Village needs to move forward as planned, the Games concept is unavailable after that date. LA leadership claim that its proposal requiring no new permanent venues or infrastructure is the right low-risk plan at the right time for the Olympic Movement, one that could set a model for the future.
It seems though that the possibility of bringing the Games back to iconic venues in Europe, to a continent where so many other cities have outright rejected the option of hosting the Games, is something the IOC is very interested in. And even if the IOC doesn’t seem to have much interest in anniversaries (see Athens’ loss to Atlanta for what were the Centenary Games of the first Modern Olympics held in the Greek Capital) it would be a nice touch that it will be 100 years from the last Games held in Paris.
Interestingly, Paris defeated Los Angeles to host those 1924 Games.
At the conclusion of the IOC Evaluation Commission visits in May both Paris 2024 Co-Chair Tony Estanguet and LA 2024 Chair Casey Wasserman said that they had not entered into discussions with the IOC about the 2024 / 2028 double award, but just hours after the team left France the IOC announced a special Executive Board meeting June 9 to discuss the issue. A panel of four IOC Vice Presidents has been studying the 2024 bid process and is expected to reveal its findings at that meeting.
The Wall Street Journal report confirms that discussions with bid officials have been held and that they and IOC members are “conceptually” in line with the proposal of Paris hosting the 2024 Games, but no further details have been revealed.
LA 2024 said in a statement Tuesday “while the IOC is reviewing its bid process, we remain focused on the 2024 Games.”
“We’re honored that Los Angeles is a 2024 candidate city at this important time for the Olympic and Paralympic movements, and we look forward to collaborating with the IOC in the months ahead.”
The two bids are scheduled to present to the IOC membership at a bid city briefing in the Olympic Capital of Lausanne, Switzerland on July 11 and 12, but it’s possible that the meeting could be leveraged to conduct an all-members vote to ratify the double-awarding plan.
The IOC is scheduled to elect the winning bid city at a session in Lima, Peru September 13.
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.