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  • Op Ed: 2024/2028 - A Unique Opportunity for the IOC


    With only two Candidate Cities following a two-year application process, the International Olympic Committee finds itself in an interesting situation for the allocation of the 2024 Summer Games. It follows on directly from a Winter Games race for 2022 which also finished with only two cities left standing.
    Kevin Bernardi, Sport et Societe chief editor and designer (Kevin Bernardi)

    The reasons for this appear to be mainly linked to a greater consideration of financial issues in difficult economic times and growing concern among citizens resulting from institutional sports scandals and Games editions perceived as excessively expensive.

    With Paris and Los Angeles the IOC is assured to have two cities fully capable of hosting great Games. By actively considering a dual award, the IOC is guaranteeing to have two reliable partners for the 2024 and 2028 editions of the Summer Games and to allow time for the implementation of a procedure that can boost the interest from future bidders.

    Rio 2016 seemed to pave the way for new hosting cities but the sometimes chaotic management of delivery and the ongoing issues of the legacy use of venues means that those Games did not have the expected positive effects for the IOC. And faced with the lack of obvious new and viable candidates emerging it makes sense to consider a double decision and not lose either Europe or the United States at this decisive moment.

    This feels a reasonable step in responding to new realities and so does a choice of the order of hosting. And for me the obvious move is to start with Paris and Europe.

    The organization of the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris would carry a powerful message with the celebration of the centenary Games, 100 years after 1924, and an opportunity to showcase the traditions of Olympism in a modern context. Olympic values are needed more than ever and where better to bring these to life than the city that is the birthplace of the modern Olympic Movement.

    The iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris (ATR)
    Paris is also proposing an exceptional celebration along the River Seine, in what would become the largest celebration park in Olympic history, all in a great city center. So sport and live sites in the heart of Paris on the Esplanade des Invalides, the Grand Palais, the Champ de Mars and the Avenue des Champs-Elysées. TV will love it.

    I also believe the Paris plan is fully aligned with the IOC's Agenda 2020 and at a time this approach needs to be brought to life. With 95% of venues either existing or temporary and a powerful legacy planned for the new build of the Olympic Village and Aquatics Centre, Paris 2024 is all about an Agenda 2020 Games.

    This all fits with the availability of the necessary land at this time, which will change, and the agreed development plans of the city and the region. It is legacy in action because it is integrated with real planning.

    But maybe more than anything, the unity displayed by all of the French political authorities, led by the city's mayor and the country's new president, and the strong national, public momentum should resonate with the IOC given recent challenges.

    By awarding Paris the 2024 Games, the IOC would return to Europe a key territory and a major sport and economic market, which has developed an uncertain attitude toward bidding and hosting. The list of withdrawals and defeated cities from this key continent has become a long one in recent years. And for Paris this is the fourth time of asking.

    LA Memorial Coliseum has hosted Olympics in 1932 and 1984 (ATR)
    Of course the City of Angels as a host has great merits but there are elements in the LA bid which would appear to fit better with a Games in 2028.

    The proposed transport sector projects, new sports programs and long-term commercial and television considerations all appear to fit better with a 2028 timeframe. Personally, I also wonder if the Olympic Movement would be better served in going to the U.S. when there is a less controversial and antagonistic figure in the White House. Maybe someone who also believes in the reality of climate change and the importance of the Paris Accord when sustainability is rightly a watchword for the IOC.

    The Olympic Movement and the Games are going through a challenging period and creative solutions are needed and the quality of these two bidders offers a unique opportunity.

    I believe a dual award approach, then a decision for a Summer Games in Europe followed by a U.S. edition and a constructive review of the bidding process is a win-win-win for the Olympic Movement. The onlooking world will see the logic and the sense of this path and the IOC being appreciated as a body making the right decisions in troubled times can't come a moment too soon.

    Kevin Bernardi is a specialist on Olympic issues. He covers the Olympic Movement as the designer and chief editor of the French language website Sport et Societe. Bernardi holds a Master's degree in Administration and Law of Public Action from the University of Perpignan. His university studies included a research report on the impact and legacy of the modern Olympic Games and a thesis on the governance of the International Olympic Committee and the Games.