Paris 2024 Games nearly assured as LA accepts 2028 consolation

PARIS: Paris is celebrating outright victory in its bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games despite cautionary rhetoric from French President Emmanuel Macron and bid leaders following a historic deal with Los Angeles.

Macron hailed the “very important step” on the road to hosting the Games after Los Angeles on Monday announced its intent to organise the 2028 Olympics.

The deal was described by International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach as a “win-win-win” agreement for both cities and the Olympic movement.

But despite the fact that Paris is now effectively the only remaining candidate to host the 2024 Games, Macron and other bid leaders shied away from overt triumphalism.

“France notes the decision of Los Angeles to put forward its candidature for 2028 and to reach an agreement with the IOC and Paris,” a statement from Macron’s office said.

Macron spoke to Bach following Los Angeles’ announcement and was “delighted by this very important step towards France obtaining the Games in 2024”.

The L’Equipe sports newspaper was more enthusiastic on Tuesday, celebrating the French capital’s victory by running a front page headline claiming “La Joie est Libre!” a play of words on the expression “La Voie est Libre,” which means the way has been cleared.

Although optimistic, Paris bid leaders remained cautious in their official reactions. That attitude is consistent with their position since launching the bid a little but more than two years ago, which contrasted with the perceived arrogance in previous bids for the 1992, 2008, and 2012 Games.

The last time it bid, Paris was considered the favorite in the race for the 2012 Olympics, only to lose out to London in a close vote in 2005 following a poor lobbying campaign. This time, they opted for a more humble and sports-driven approach, leaving government officials in a supporting role and making sure all the political hurdles were cleared before going forward.

Both Paris and Los Angeles had wanted to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, with the winner to be officially named by the IOC on September 13 in the Peruvian capital Lima.

But the possibility that Los Angeles would abandon a 2024 bid and instead accept the 2028 Games has been growing since the IOC decided in July that it would attempt to award both Games at its Lima meeting.

The French capital insisted it only wanted to host the Games in 2024, on the 100th anniversary of the city’s 1924 Olympics, prompting Los Angeles to soften its stance and consider hosting the 2028 Games.

And confirmation of the decision everyone was expecting came on Monday night.

“The IOC welcomes this decision of the Los Angeles Olympic and Paralympic Candidature Committee,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in a statement.

The decision, subject to formal ratification by the IOC at the Peru meeting, paves the way for Los Angeles and Paris to join London as the only cities ever to host the Games — summer or winter — three times since the modern Olympics began more than a century ago.

The United States last hosted the Olympics for the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta. Its first was the Summer Olympiad III, staged in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1904, coinciding with the World’s Fair held there that summer.

“I am proud to announce that the Olympic Games are coming back to the United States of America,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told a news conference at the StubHub Center sports complex in suburban Carson.

US President Donald Trump, beleaguered by recent staff shakeups and setbacks on Capitol Hill, hailed the news in a statement of congratulations from the White House.

“I am confident that the Summer Games in Los Angeles will exemplify both the Olympic ideal and the American spirit, and we look forward to hosting them,” he said.

The United States has hosted the Olympics nine times — five Summer Games and four Winter Games. France has hosted six times, three each in summer and winter.

The IOC’s unprecedented move of essentially awarding two Games in tandem turned the spotlight on security challenges facing the French capital while giving Los Angeles, which last hosted the Olympics 33 years ago, ample time to upgrade its public transportation system.

LA officials, who had put forward a $5.3 billion (4.5 billion euros) bid for 2024, said an agreement had been reached with the IOC on financial considerations that would make waiting an extra four years feasible.

The Los Angeles 2028 hosting agreement is still subject to formal City Council approval, which is expected next Tuesday or Wednesday, city officials said.

Published in Dawn, August 2nd, 2017