Olympic Intrigue Arrives in Aarhus

(ATR) The race for the 2024 Olympics takes a crucial step in Denmark. ATR’s Ed Hula reports from SportAccord 2017.

(ATR) The race for the 2024 Olympics takes a crucial step this week in Aarhus, Denmark.

IOC President Thomas Bach will meet for the first time with the mayors of Los Angeles and Paris to talk face-to-face about the possibility of awarding one city the 2024 Summer Games and the 2028 event to the other.

The meetings will give the IOC chief the chance to test the reality of the possible change. Both cities have indicated that their focus is on the 2024 Olympics but have avoided the "what if" of whether 2028 would be possible.

Stung in recent years by the steady attrition of summer and winter bid cities which have dropped out of the race due to the failure to secure public or government support, the IOC is now considering whether to award 2024 and 2028 at the same time, given the high regard for both cities. France and the U.S. have lodged several bids in the past 12 years without success.

Now with Bach naming the four IOC vice presidents to a working group to study the possibility, the mayors will need to confront the "what if" question directly with the man overseeing the bid process. For Bach, the mayors will probably deliver hardball reality checks of their respective situations that both include strong political and public support.

He’ll be joined by Ugur Erdener, one of the IOC VPs Bach is asking to sort out this bid dilemma with Paris and Los Angeles. Erdener will be on hand with Bach to meet the mayors, the only one of the vice presidents who leads an international federation, World Archery. He’s in Aarhus in that IF capacity.

"It’s important," Erdener acknowledges about the meetings this week with Anne Hidalgo of Paris and Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles.

"We want to do a lot of listening in the coming weeks about what to do," Erdener tells Around the Rings. He says he wants to hear from all the stakeholders he can about the impact of such a decision. He says the recommendation of the working group will be ready in early July when the Executive Board meets next.

Erdener and his 27 other summer IF colleagues will also be listening Tuesday afternoon in Aarhus when the two cities each present a 10-minute, video-free PowerPoint to the federation leaders. The bare-bones presentation was agreed to by the IOC after at first denying the bids the chance to make a pitch to the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations, as has been customary in past summer contests.

Garcetti arrived Sunday afternoon, touring Aarhus and meeting with his Danish counterpart. The difference between the two cities could not be more immense. Aarhus, Denmark’s second-largest city tops out population wise 260,000. LA, the number-two city in the U.S., is home to four million. Aarhus is a place where there’s dozens of bicycle shops, one Starbucks and nary a freeway.

IOC member Anita DeFrantz, herself one of those Southern California millions, came to Aarhus from Africa where she visited four countries, including the just-ended cross country world championships in Uganda. The visit is said to have been part of a long-standing program of assistance and cooperation with the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa.

More than 20 other IOC members are expected this week in Aarhus. Denmark Crown Prince Frederik, an IOC member since 2009, is expected on Wednesday. That’s the opening day of the SportAccord convention and the customary meetings between the IOC and ASOIF and AIOWF, the winter Games federation counterpart.

Both associations hold their annual assemblies ahead of the SportAccord convention which is jointly owned by the federation associations.

Written and reported in Aarhus by Ed Hula.

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