The International Olympic Committee will crown Paris and Los Angeles as hosts for the 2024 and 2028 Olympics on Wednesday, delivering a welcome feel-good factor amid a gathering storm of corruption allegations.
For the first time since the awarding of the 1984 Olympics, when only one city was in the race, the traditional frenzy of last-minute lobbying, politicking and schmoozing will be strikingly absent in Lima.
In a historic move, the IOC brokered an agreement that will see Paris handed the 2024 Games with Los Angeles awarded 2028, an outcome that all sides are declaring as victory in a “win-win-win” deal.
IOC members will ratify the agreement following 25-minute presentations by Paris and Los Angeles, the last two cities left in the race for the 2024 Olympics.
“It’s a big win and we are here to really enjoy it,” said Paris 2024 bid co-chief Tony Estanguet, reflecting the triumphant mood amongst the French delegation as Wednesday’s vote neared.
Los Angeles 2028 officials meanwhile insisted they are satisfied with the deal which means the Californian city will have to wait 11 more years before it stages the Olympics for a third time.
The city will receive roughly $100 million more than Paris in IOC funding for the games, a financial sweetener that delivers “a frankly much better economic result”, according to 2028 bid chief Casey Wasserman.
“We think the result is extraordinary,” Wasserman told AFP. “We’ll be celebrating on Wednesday night and through the weekend in LA for sure.”
IOC chief President Thomas Bach, the driving force behind the double award, described the candidacies of Paris and Los Angeles as a “golden opportunity.”
“For the IOC it would have been a huge mistake not seize this golden opportunity,” Bach said Monday.
Wednesday’s vote marks the conclusion of a mostly good-natured bidding campaign notable for the number of cities who withdrew from the race citing waning public support and concerns over budget.
‘Too many losers’
Hamburg, Rome, Budapest and Boston all fell by the wayside during the competition, reflecting the political difficulties in persuading voters that staging the Olympics is worth the multi-billion-dollar price tag.
IOC chief Bach first signalled publicly that the double-award of an Olympics could be on the agenda in December last year, lamenting that the bidding process produced “too many losers.”
As the bidding battle for 2024 unfolded, and as the field thinned to leave Los Angeles and Paris as the last bids standing, the IOC’s determination to lock in two high-quality cities for the next two summer games became apparent.
Los Angeles and Paris, whose bids emphasise a high-level of venue readiness, both wowed the IOC’s Evaluation Commission during back-to-back visits in May.
In July, the IOC announced it would award the staging rights for the 2024 and 2028 Olympics at the same meeting in Lima.
The drama-free conclusion also guarantees the IOC will not have to confront the explosive fall-out from the vote for the 2016 Olympics, which detonated spectacularly last week when investigators in Brazil swooped on the country’s Olympics chief Carlos Nuzman.
Nuzman stands accused of plotting to bribe IOC members into awarding Rio de Janeiro the 2016 Games at a 2009 vote in Copenhagen.
Former IOC member Nuzman was taken in for questioning with his passport confiscated and a search of his house unearthing around $150,000 (Rs 96 lakh) worth in cash in various currencies.
Brazilian police later said they are probing “an international corruption scheme” aimed at “the buying of votes for the election of (Rio) by the International Olympic Committee as the venue for the 2016 Olympics.”
The charges swirling around Rio’s bid revive memories of the Salt Lake City bribery scandal, which led to 20 IOC members being either kicked out of the Olympics’ ruling body or pleading guilty to accepting bribes for votes.
French investigators meanwhile have already announced they are investigating the 2013 vote in Buenos Aires which awarded the 2020 Olympics to Tokyo, following reports of secret payments into a Singapore-based bank account linked to the son of disgraced former world athletics chief Lamine Diack.