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  • The Hula Report: 2024 Olympic Bid Dilemma


    (ATR) Paris and Los Angeles appear to be on track to lock up an Olympic Games for 2024 or 2028, but hurdles remain. Can the two strike a deal with the IOC?

    IOC President Thomas Bach in PyeongChang March 17. (ATR)
    This week IOC President Thomas Bach threw the doors wide open to an unprecedented change in course for the Olympic bidding process. He formed a working group to study the implications of choosing Paris and Los Angeles to host either 2024 and 2028 Olympics, Bach has sent the strongest signal that the IOC would be wise to accept both bids when it meets in September to decide.

    Stung by serial failures of Olympic bids in the past few years and a steady attrition of candidates, Bach acknowledged in December that the IOC bid process was producing too many losers. Given the shortage of suitable candidates, he has recognized that two birds in the hand instead of the bush would seem to be fortuitous for the IOC, an opportunity it cannot ignore.

    Paris and Los Angeles may be the two best Summer Olympic bids in decades, measured across the range of requirements for a bid. Rejecting either city could be a big loss for the IOC. These are the latest of three recent bids each for the Summer Games from the U.S. and France. Insiders from both sides have suggested that they will not bid for a long time if they fail again for 2024.

    Now the four IOC vice presidents named to the working group must sort out the details of how to make changes that will keep both of the powerhouse bids from Los Angeles and Paris happy. Legal questions, practical considerations and politics will all come into play.

    But amid the questions to settle, one must be answered first: Will Paris and Los Angeles agree to the arrangement? Without the assent of both cities to this twist in the process, there’s no reason for the IOC to pursue the possibility. So far in official statements, neither city acknowledges the reality that this race has suddenly changed.

    “While the IOC has established a working group to consider its options, the bid process remains unchanged and we will continue to focus on why Los Angeles is the right partner for 2024 Games,” LA 2024 media spokesman Jeff Millman tells Around the Rings.

    From Paris, a similar response in a statement to ATR.

    “This is a matter for the IOC and Paris 2024 is not in a position to comment further on this specific matter. Our bid is moving forward very well and we are totally focused on the remaining months of the campaign. Our only objective is to win the right to host the Games in 2024.”

    Regardless of their stoic pursuit of 2024, bid teams from both cities must now seriously consider if they will dance with the IOC in 2028 if another is selected for the first waltz in 2024. With transparency in the Olympic bid process required in both cities, it seems neither can wait very long before beginning public discussion of the possibility.

    Both cities deliver assurances that public opinion and government support a 2024 Olympics, can they do the same for 2028, now 11 years away? Plenty can change in life – gradually or suddenly – that could  make a city no longer suitable for the Olympics when it is today. The political mandates of the current mayors and national leaders from both bids will have ended by the time of the 2028 Games. Will new governments, new mayors stay true to pledges made in 2017?

    These are hard questions to ask about 2024. Answering them for 2028 is even tougher. Waiting until the IOC meets in July to consider a possible change may be too late to start the approval process in the cities in time for the IOC vote in September. The earlier the better for cities to sniff-out potential issues that could derail the change, even if the IOC is in favor.
    ATR Editor Ed Hula

    Paris and Los Angeles can make things easy on themselves – and the IOC – by crafting an accord to accept either Olympics. That would clear the deck for the IOC to confidently consider the terms needed to make this change when it next meets to consider the change. Otherwise the IOC still faces the uncertainty of waiting for the cities to decide whether to accept.

    With that much settled when the IOC meets in Lausanne in July to hear technical briefings from the two cities, the focus of the cities and the IOC would be to discern which is best for 2024 and which might be even better for 2028.

    That at least will allow some tension in Lima Sept. 13 when the IOC meets again to vote. And to make sure there’s no hint of second place, maybe Bach will hold up side by side cards so that each city gets equal billing.

    Then the hard part begins for the IOC: a reform to the Olympic bid process that truly produces winners.

    Written by Ed Hula. For general comments or questions, click here.

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