IOC says yes to Paris in ’24 and L.A. in ’28

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Updated: September 13, 2017

LIMA, Peru — This was one of those rare Olympic moments where everyone walked away a winner.

Paris for 2024. Los Angeles for 2028. And the International Olympic Committee for transforming an unruly bidding process to lock down its future by choosing not one, but two Summer Olympics hosts at the same time.

The IOC put the rubber stamp on a pre-determined conclusion Wednesday, giving Paris the 2024 Games and LA the 2028 Games in a history-making vote.

The decision marks the first time the IOC has granted two Summer Olympics at once. It came after a year’s worth of scrambling by IOC president Thomas Bach, who had only the two bidders left for the original prize, 2024, and couldn’t bear to see either lose.

Both cities will host their third Olympics.

The public in many cities, especially those in the Western democracies that have hosted the majority of these games, is no longer eager to approve blank checks for bid committees and governments that have to come up with the millions simply to bid for the Olympics, then billions more to stage them if they win.

That reality hit hard when three of the original five bidders for 2024 — Rome, Hamburg, Germany, and Budapest, Hungary — dropped out, and the U.S. Olympic Committee had to pull the plug on its initial candidate, Boston, due to lack of public support.

“This is a solution to an awkward problem,” said longtime IOC member Dick Pound of Canada. “Many of the (candidate) cities are not prepared. They say, `Let’s have an Olympics,’ but they haven’t done the background work, checked the finances. But I guess we have to share it and say, `Have you done A, B, C, and D?”

Only two candidates checked all the boxes — Paris and Los Angeles, each with a storied tradition of Olympic hosting and an apparent understanding of Bach’s much-touted reform package, known as Agenda 2020. It seeks to streamline the Games, most notably by eliminating billion-dollar stadiums and infrastructure projects that have been underused, if used at all, once the Olympics leave town.

Can they deliver?

Paris will have the traditional seven-year time frame to answer that.

Only one totally new venue is planned — a swimming and diving arena to be built near the Stade de France, which will serve as the Olympic stadium. Roland Garros, which will host tennis and boxing, will get a privately funded expansion. In all, the projected cost of new venues and upgrades to others is $892 million.

To be sure, Paris already has much to work with. Beach volleyball will be played near the Eiffel Tower; cycling will finish at the Arc de Triomphe; equestrian will be held at the Chateau de Versailles. And what would an Olympics be without some water-quality issues? There will be pressure to clean up the River Seine, which is where open-water and triathlon will be held.

Los Angeles, meanwhile, will get an extra four years that Garcetti insists is hardly needed. Los Angeles proposed a $5.3 billion budget for 2024 (to be adjusted for 2028) that included infrastructure, operational costs — everything. A big number, indeed, though it must be put into perspective: Earlier this summer, organizers in Tokyo estimated their cost for the 2020 Games at $12.6 billion. The London Games in 2012 came in at $19 billion.

Traffic could be a problem — it almost always is in LA — but the city will be well along in its multi-decade, multibillion-dollar transit upgrade by 2028, and those with long memories recall free-flowing highways the last time the Olympics came to town, as locals either left the city or heeded warnings to use public transportation or stay home.

Those 1984 Games essentially saved the Olympic movement after a decade of terror, red ink and a boycott sullied the brand and made hosting a burden. The city points to its Olympic legacy to explain a nearly unheard-of 83 percent approval rating in a self-commissioned poll — not an insignificant factor when the IOC picks a place to hold its crown-jewel event.

Along with Paris, LA is stepping in again to try to change the conversation about what hosting the Olympics can really be.

“It’s a unique opportunity to do two at the same time,” Wasserman said. “Hopefully, it’s an interesting paradigm for the world going forward. We’re two great cities, it’s two great Olympic hosts and it’s going to be two great games.”

Article source: http://www.espn.com/olympics/story/_/id/20693082/ioc-says-yes-paris-24-la-28