The exact timeline is still uncertain, but Los Angeles inched closer to luring the Olympics back to the United States Tuesday as the International Olympic Committee voted unanimously to move forward with a dual award for the 2024 and ‘28 Summer Games.
During its meeting Tuesday in Lausanne, Switzerland, the IOC saw presentations from both Paris and Los Angeles and then discussed the merits of a dual award. The two cities had been vying to host the 2024 Olympics, but IOC President Thomas Bach, weary of a process that produces too many losers, had been pushing a proposal that gives one city the 2024 Games and allows the other to host four years later.
The IOC voted to allow its executive board to begin negotiating with the two cities in hopes of striking an agreement that works for all three parties. One city would presumably have to agree to step aside and wait until 2028 to realize its Olympic dreams.
“L.A. is ready to throw these in two months if we were asked, or two decades if it came to that,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a news conference. “L.A. is ready because we have the infrastructure, the love and the vision to make sure it’s something that serves this movement and something that serves our city.”
If an agreement can be reached in the next two months, the IOC would still need to ratify the deal at its September meeting in Lima. In the event that the three parties can’t strike a deal, the IOC would then vote on only the 2024 host.
While speculation has focused on Paris hosting first, the American contingent surely saw Tuesday’s vote as welcome news. Not long after the LA 2024 made its presentation, an ocean away President Trump tweeted, “Working hard to get the Olympics for the United States (L.A.). Stay tuned!”
Since the U.S. presidential election last November, there has been chatter among Olympic watchers about Trump’s impact on the Los Angeles’ bid and whether his foreign policies would help or hurt the United States’ chances. Trump was not at the IOC session and was not part of the LA 2024 presentation. While Trump had hosted Bach last month at the White House, his counterpart, French President Emmanuel Macron was in Lausanne, actively lobbying for the Paris bid, meeting with the IOC and members of the international media.
Following the presentations, the IOC members discussed the dual award proposal for more than an hour, focusing on the process to determine the specific hosts for each year, the language in the IOC charter and how a dual award might impact the bidding process in the future. One IOC member asked about the prospect that neither Los Angeles nor Paris would want to wait four years.
“We don’t know that one city will agree,” John Coates, the IOC vice president from Australia, responded.
While Paris has been steadfast in its desire to host the 2024 Games, the Los Angeles’ contingent again showed a willingness to compromise.
“We don’t believe this decision is only about us or Paris or the year 2024,” said Casey Wasserman, chair of LA 2024, said at a news conference. “This decision is about the future direction of the Olympic movement. … Our objective is to best serve the IOC’s needs, not only ours. That’s why we’ve never given an ultimatum about 2024. We don’t believe in ultimatums. We believe in partnership.”
At the conclusion of the IOC vote, as Bach was moving on with the meeting’s agenda, the two mayors appeared on stage. “Can we just say thank you?” Garcetti said with a big smile. Bach left his seat to hug and raise hands with Garcetti and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo.
The Los Angeles contingent presenting in Lausanne included LA 2024 officials, American IOC members Anita DeFrantz, Angela Ruggiero and Larry Probst, who’s also the USOC chair, and past Olympic champions Allyson Felix and Janet Evans, who serves as LA 2024’s vice chair.
While the LA 2024 presentation was closed to the media, Wasserman said only one IOC member inquired about the possibility of waiting until 2028 to serve as host. “It was really, ‘Are you competing for 2024?’ and the mayor very clearly and concisely responded, ‘Yes, we are in the competition for 2024,’” Wasserman said.
While the IOC’s bidding process has been roundly criticized in recent years, prompting several cities to back out of the hunt due to high costs and low public support, Bach said this week both the Los Angeles and Paris bids “will set a precedent and make the Games more feasible and more sustainable in the future.”
The unprecedented dual award has been in the works for months. Since late last year, after other cities — Boston, Hamburg, Budapest and Rome — bowed out of the competition, Bach acknowledged pitfalls with the bidding process. In March he appointed a working group to explore the viability of a dual award, and on June 8, the IOC’s influential executive committee voted unanimously to recommend a dual award to the full 95-member body. Their decision was made even before the IOC’s evaluation committee issued its glowing report on both cities’ proposals on July 5.
While Paris has proposed a visual stunning Summer Games with classic backdrops, Los Angeles’ bid is a cost-effective one that relies on existing venues or infrastructure that will be built regardless of the Olympics.
The United States has not hosted an Olympics since the Salt Lake City Winter Games in 2002 and before that the Atlanta Summer Games in 1996. It had previously tried to lure the 2012 Games to New York and the 2016 Olympics to Chicago, failing both times.
“Not only is it the most remarkable U.S. bid that we’ve put forward … but we believe it’s the bid that will provide the maximum benefit to the Olympic and Paralympic movements at this especially important time,” Scott Blackmun, the U.S. Olympic Committee’s CEO, said at a news conference.