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Tug-of-War over 2024 Olympics Appears to be Pulling in Paris’ Favor

28 Jun, 2017

By: Michael Popke

As Forbes.com wrote when announcing in early June that the International Olympic Committee approved a proposal to award two Summer Games at the same time for the first time ever: “These are unusual times, and unusual times call for unusual measures.”

That decision, made after several other potential host cities dropped out of the bidding process, means that Paris and Los Angeles — the only two cities still under consideration for the 2024 Games — likely will each host a Summer Olympics.

“In Germany, we have a saying,” IOC President Thomas Bach, who lives in Germany, said at a June 9 press conference. “I don’t know whether I can translate it properly, but the saying is, ‘It’s better to have a small bird in your hand than a big bird on the roof.’ Here, we have two big birds in our hands, and I cannot see any small bird on the roof. There may be some flying over the roof and making some noise, but none of them has landed on the roof, even. So I think it’s a great opportunity to keep these two big birds in our hands.”

In May, IOC representatives toured venues in both Paris and Los Angeles after Boston, Budapest, Hamburg and Rome dropped out of the running, citing cost concerns.

“We have two candidatures that do not present major risks,” Patrick Baumann, chair of the IOC’s evaluation commission, said at a news conference from Paris at the time, echoing Bach. “Both cities have an Olympic tradition, venues ready to use and dedicated teams. They have a totally different historic and cultural background. The two cities have a different vision, and IOC members will have to decide between the two.”

Or, now, maybe not. The IOC can have its proverbial cake and eat it, too.

Forbes.com offered up multiple theories — most of them political — about why Paris is more likely to receive the 2024 bid, with L.A. getting the nod in 2028:

Among the factors pushing the 2024 games to Paris, one is more sentimental. 2024 would be the 100th anniversary of the last time Paris hosted the games, in 1924.

Another boils down to political climate, specifically the U.S. president. Andrei S. Markovits, Professor of European Politics at University of Michigan and an expert on sports and sports culture, [said] that “There’s absolutely no question that Trump is a huge liability for L.A., big time.”

Meanwhile, France has just elected Emmanuel Macron as its new president on a largely internationalist platform, as opposed to Trump’s “America First” rhetoric. Then there’s Trump’s proposed travel ban on citizens from majority-Muslim countries that the U.S. president continues to campaign for in the courts and in tweets.

Awarding the Olympics to Paris in 2024 and L.A. in 2028 would ensure that they do not occur under the Donald Trump administration.

It appears Los Angeles has already gotten the memo. An article in SwimSwam carried the news that L.A. has issued a statement that all but concedes the 2024 Games to Paris. In fact, LA2024 Chairman Casey Wasserman, in a statement Wednesday titled “An Opportunity to Serve,” claims that LA2024 was never “only about LA or 2024:”

“Even when the issue of a dual award for the 2024 and 2028 Games was initially raised, we didn’t say it’s ‘LA first’ or it’s ‘now or never’ for LA: that sounds like an ultimatum.We could have used that strategy, but we didn’t because we thought it was presumptuous to tell the IOC what to do and how to think.  We’re better partners than that.”

This statement appears to be a direct about-face from the one Wasserman and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti made in March, noting, they had “never contemplated anything else" but 2024 and were not interested in future years.

Once the full IOC body approves the proposal in July (which is likely), the IOC and the two candidate cities would begin negotiations, according to The New York Times. A final vote to award the 2024 and 2028 Games is expected in September.

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