Tuesday marks the one-year-to-go milestone for the 2024 Olympic Games bidders as the four-city race enters the final lap headed toward Lima, Peru where the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will elect a host from those that remain.
Budapest, Los Angeles, Paris and Rome need to survive one more milestone ahead of the IOC vote at its all-members session September 13, 2017. In December the IOC Executive board will use a dashboard report from the Evaluation Commission to determine whether cities will pass to the third and final phase of the process – and in the likely event that they do, the bids will go full sprint to the finish line.
Rome, with no support from recently-elected Mayor Virginia Raggi, could bail out of the race later this month on its own accord should the mayor maintain her position and deny the campaign a needed endorsement ahead of an October 7 IOC deadline. But even if Rome survives, low public support and economic headaches in Italy could have voters shying away from an Olympic partnership with the Eternal City.
Los Angeles enjoys stellar support, recently polled at about 88 per cent, and boasts that most of its venues are already constructed allowing the Golden State to organize a low-cost Games while focusing efforts on the athlete experience – and not construction. The city has already hosted twice, but its last Games in 1984 has been widely considered to be the most recent profitable Games.
But will politics get in the way of Southern California dreams? L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said last month that the potential election of the seemingly xenophobic Donald Trump as U.S. President wouldn’t have an impact on the bid – however that will ultimately be the decision of IOC members.
Paris vows to bring the Games back to Europe and to a city with existing venues, event experience and a deep history with the Olympic movement. But it won’t be easy – Paris has failed to convince the IOC to gather the world’s athletes in France on three previous bids. The recent spate of terror attacks in France may also spook Olympic voters.
Budapest hopes to refresh the Olympic movement by leveraging some ready-built venues and offering new needed facilities to be constructed before the Games. Organizers believe recent successful venue construction projects and a future fifteen year sports development plan will give the IOC the comfort it needs to partner with the Eastern European capital. While Budapest is the only city of the four to have never had the opportunity to host – the relatively small population of Hungary may have IOC members questioning whether the plans are scalable and legacies sound.
But it will be a race for sure.
After October’s stage 2 bid book deadline and December’s Executive Board decision, the remaining cities will be required to extend a (USD) $150,000 fee to the IOC. The stage 3 bid book deadline is February 3, 2017.
In April and May next year the Evaluation Commission will conduct four-day on-site visits to each city with a team led by Namibian sprinter Frankie Fredericks consisting of about 14 IOC members and technical experts. They’ll use that experience along with content from the submitted bid books to author a technical evaluation report to be shared in July with IOC members, and then the general public.
Later in July bid cities will be able to present directly to IOC members at a special session near the organization’s headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, then in early September the Executive Board will decide which remaining cities will be put on the final election ballot. But with the slim and well-qualified field there will likely be no cuts by the IOC throughout the year.
This campaign, however, will not be won or lost on the logistics or technical elements around the bid itself – it will be mostly about interpersonal relationships as the IOC elects a partner to work closely with and who will represent the Olympic brand for the next seven years. The research and lobbying required to be successful will not appear on any schedule or document. Handshakes may be the currency required to get past the finish line first.
A year out from the 2020 Olympic Games bid election Istanbul was perceived to be out front, but a political meltdown in Turkey helped give Tokyo the win a year later.
Twelve months before Rio was chosen to host the 2016 Games, Chicago seemed to be the favourite – and even Madrid and Tokyo were given more favourable odds. But that all turned around when Brazilian officials presented their famous map that showed South America had never hosted – and then it was time to vote.
Fifty-two weeks in advance of the 2012 Games bid vote Paris was predicted to be the likely winner, but it is widely believed that London rescued a victory just hours before the final vote with intense personal lobbying by British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
In the bid for the 2024 Games the mainstream media has labeled the campaign a two-horse race between L.A. and Paris. Will it be? Stay tuned, we’ll be covering every surprising moment.
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.