By Barry Janoff
March 17, 2017: As the September date nears for the International Olympic Committee to decide whether Los Angeles or Paris would host the 2024 Summer Games, a situation raised by the IOC last year may actually come to fruition: Both cities could be selected, one to host the ’24 Olympics, the other to host the 2028 Summer Games.
The potential strategy, driven by finances, politics, logistics and other issues, was given more substance by Thomas Bach, IOC president, today (March 17) during a media conference in Pyeongchang, South Korea, site of next year’s Winter Games, following a two-day IOC executive board meeting.
According to Bach, an IOC Evaluation Commission has been formed to study the possibility of naming two Summer sites at once, which would be a first in IOC history. The IOC historically selects Winter and Summer host cities seven years ahead of the respective Games.
"What we discussed is we have an opportunity. We have two excellent candidates from two major Olympic countries.,” said Bach in response to a question about the September decision. "Two candidates embracing the 2020 Olympic agenda, a great use of existing facilities, low investment budgets, modern approach to the Games and a great (vision) for youth.
"Everything is on the table. This is what we discussed," said Bach. "All the options are on the table, and this includes the '24-'28 procedure and vote."
According to Bach, the Evaluation Commission would be comprised of four IOC vice-presidents: John Coates (Australia), Ugur Erdener (Turkey), Juan Antonio Samaranch (Spain) and Yu Zaiqing (China).
The tactic was brought to light by Bach late last year when he said that the current IOC selection procedure has "too many losers."
This past December, Bach broached the topic just months after Rome joined the list of cites that had dropped out of the bidding process for the ’24 Games, joining Hamburg and Boston in 2015. Last month, Budapest also dropped out after some two years of work.
"We have to take into consideration that the procedure as it is now produces too many losers," Bach said in December. "You can be happy about a strong field in quantity for one day but you start to regret it the next day.
"It is not the purpose of an Olympic candidate city procedure to produce losers. It is to produce the best possible host for an Olympic Games. We will have to look into this," said Bach.
IOC also had only two candidate cities for 2022 Winter Games — Almaty (Kazakhstan) and Beijing, which won the bid — following decisions by Oslo, Stockholm, Krakow and Ukraine's Lviv to withdraw their bids.
The bidding for the 2026 Winter Games is in the "exploration stage," with several cities expressing initial interest, including Calgary, Almaty, Trento (Italy) and Stockholm.
Accentuating the positive, Bach said that Los Angeles and Paris were both in great positions to host Summer Games.
"This is a position you like to be in," Bach said about the proposals being fronted by LA2024 and Paris 2024. "If you look around the world at this moment you can see a lot of instability, a lot of fragility and uncertainty. We can see many, many changes.
"So therefore with this situation, we're in a comfortable situation and now it will be up to the working group how to best explore, how to exploit the positive situation and to see what it means," he said.
Both the LA2024 and Paris 2024 organizing committees stressed that winning the 2024 bid was their top priority.
Earlier this month, LA2024 hired PR firm Weber Shandwick to continue to boost its efforts and aligned with four major studios — Disney, Fox, NBCUniversal and Warner Bros. — to create marketing and promotional content to support the bid.
Paris 2024 last month received the support of more than 50 mayors from cities worldwide, including six from former Olympic host cities: Athens, Barcelona, Mexico City, Montreal, Munich and Sydney.
The IOC Evaluation Commission is scheduled to visit Paris and Los Angeles "before publishing a final report on the respective bids which will be issued to all IOC members," according to Bach.
Bach said the Evaluation Commission is then scheduled to make proposals to the IOC board and full membership during a meeting at IOC headquarters July 9-12 in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Representatives from both Los Angeles and Paris are scheduled to give formal presentations of their 2024 plans as the next stage in the bid process, according to the IOC.
Naming two host cities simultaneously would require a change in the IOC Olympic Charter.
"You must always have room for interpretation to adapt to changing times," said Bach, who, as IOC president, was heavily involved in writing the Olympic Charter. "The charter is flexible enough also in this respect."
Whether or not the naming of two host cities actually happens is yet to be determined.
"Timing is up to the working group," said Bach. "If they say it’s better to make no change, we will make no change. If they come up with a different proposal, it will depend on how far the changes go. At this moment I cannot speculate."
With Budapest Out, IOC In Bid Trouble Regarding Future Games
IOC President: Games Bid Process Has ‘Too Many Losers’
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