(ATR) Los Angeles and Paris trade digs in presentations to the summer Olympic sports in Aarhus.
LA 2024’s team of mayor Eric Garcetti, bid chair Casey Wasserman, CEO Gene Sykes and IOC member Angela Ruggiero took the stage first to pitch leaders of the 28 international federations.
Paris 2024 fielded mayor Anne Hidalgo, CEO Etienne Thobois and co-chair Tony Estanguet. Each bid had 10 minutes to get across their Olympic bid concept and positioning.
Los Angeles delivered a slicker, more persuasive presentation.
It was notable for mentioning the IOC’s possible plan for a dual 2024 and 2028 award and the "no risks, no surprises" slogan that will be used relentlessly in bid messaging in the months leading up to the IOC vote in September. The California city won’t build anything from scratch for the Olympics.
Garcetti said the LA 2024 bid was "crafted to address this important time in the Olympic Movement" and embracing Agenda 2020, a reference to the IOC’s bidding process rocked by 10 withdrawals in the 2022 and 2024 contests.
He said LA offers the IOC "something creative and new, not more of the same".
"We are not focused on the last 100 years, we're focused on the next 100 years," he said in a direct dig at Paris.
In another jab at Paris, Sykes said LA could have built a new Olympic village but it would have been "irresponsible" because of the resourcefulness of the University of California Los Angeles, which was chosen as the venue. Rival Paris is building a new Olympic village at huge expense.
But it was Wasserman’s mention of "the elephant in the room" – a possible IOC proposal to hand the 2024 and ’28 Games to both candidate cities that prompted the conference room to draw collective breath.
He said the conversation "makes a lot of sense". Speaking to reporters afterwards, he insisted LA was only running for 2024 unless the IOC offered up another option and changed the bidding rules.
"The important thing is that no city or nation has all the answers to the challenges that lie ahead for the movement. We know we certainly don’t," he told delegates.
In a clear attempt to distance the bid from Donald Trump’s under-fire administration, Wasserman said the bid was "not a government project with all the risk and uncertainty that that implies in today’s world. Our bid is privately funded… free of government interference".
"Our bid isn’t about ego or boosting American pride," he added, speaking about the importance of working with the federations to achieve their goals.
Ruggiero spoke more directly to the audience of IFs, who included around a dozen IOC members. She said LA 2024 would give the federations a bigger role in Games planning.
"We’ve created a dedicated budget for your regular IF visits, for the first time we commit to give athletes two free tickets for each of their competitions," she said. "Two new programs to help you: First is the sports ambassador program, which will identify business leaders to work with you to maximize commercial opportunities in the U.S."
Paris Focuses on Tradition
In contrast, Paris 2024’s pitch focused on the tradition of sport in the French capital and the role of athletes in designing and delivering the venue concept.
While it lacked buzz and talk of innovation and improvement to the Olympic brand that characterized L.A.’s pitch, the bid leadership delivered an appeal more concerned with athletes and venues – the core priorities of IFs.
"A team you can trust" is the Paris slogan.
Estanguet said the bid would work hard with the federations to meet their high expectations and provide the "best-ever games for athletes". Venues will be within 20 minutes of the Olympic Village.
Thobois spoke of a "robust" Olympic plan, "developed and refined over time… it will be delivered as promised, using venues that are world-class".
Venues in the masterplan "don’t need heavy renovation", he said, a snipe at Los Angeles and some of the significant work they have to do on the Coliseum and other venues.
The Paris bid team tried to address the questions: Why Paris, why bid, and why now? But their answers lacked punch and substance in the explaining.
Only Hidalgo’s comment hit home – a thinly-veiled dig at Los Angeles, home of Hollywood, which boasts hi-tech innovations in staging the Games.
"We are bidding because we, like you, believe in sport. The Olympics are so much more than entertainment, more than just a branch of show business," she said. "We believe that sport can change the world."
Paris have made much of their Olympics "made for sharing" message in recent months but there was little to back it up in the presentation.
Estanguet noted that a Paris 2024 Games would come 100 years after the city last staged the Olympics. Los Angeles hosted in 1984.
He touted a fourth Olympic bid from Paris and "strong plan" as reasons why the IOC should vote for it. "We believe we are the right city, with the right vision at the right moment… for a new and relevant sustainable Olympics."
Next for the bids is the IOC evaluation commission visits in May.
Reported by Mark Bisson
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