Staring Contest Ensues for 2024 Olympic Race -- Media Watch

(ATR) Whichever city blinks first could be left hosting the Olympics four years later than originally intended.

(ATR) Los Angeles and Paris are refusing to bat an eye at the IOC’s proposal to award both the 2024 and 2028 Games this September.

The bidding contest that began in 2015 with five cities has dwindled to two with less than six months remaining until the International Olympic Committee chooses the host city of the 2024 Games in Lima, Peru.

Although the IOC is left with two cities with rich Olympic histories, strong public support and well-planned bids, Olympic leaders do not find themselves in an enviable position. The 2024 race is following the same path as the 2022 Winter Olympics contest that also came down to a two-horse finale.

With the prospect of hosting the Olympics becoming less welcomed by citizens around the world, the IOC is forced to consider whether awarding two Olympics at once could solve their current woes.

While the IOC has created a working group to study the possibility of awarding the 2024 and 2028 Olympics this September, its two remaining contenders say they are laser-focused on only hosting the 2024 Games.

David Wharton of the Los Angeles Times notes that while neither Los Angeles nor Paris will blink in public, there could be conversations behind closed doors that could give the IOC some wiggle room.

"Such pronouncements notwithstanding, there is speculation that either city might ultimately accept the 2028 Games," Wharton writes. "After all, officials have already spent tens of millions on bidding."

However, Wharton adds that any indication from Los Angeles or Paris of willingness to accept the 2028 Games would make the IOC’s job too easy.

"But neither Paris nor Los Angeles can afford to hint at accepting the later bid," he says. "It might all but seal the vote, giving IOC members an easy out."

Tariq Panja of the Chicago Tribune says the strong words by each city sets up a "showdown" for the 2024 Games, with L.A. and Paris each offering unique opportunities to the IOC.

"Paris has bid several times recently and hasn't hosted since 1924," Panja writes. "But Los Angeles is the latest offer from a country that is tremendously important to the IOC financially. NBC Universal's broadcast deal with the IOC contributes more than the total of the remaining global media deals for the Games."

Guillaume Marion of Franc Jeux details how bid leaders for the Paris 2024 project continue to reiterate they will not consider the 2028 Olympics. Marion includes quotes from Paris 2024 bid chief Tony Estanguet who says the city’s project "cannot be transposed" to 2028 and chief executive Etienne Thobois who says the city has "no guarantees, no plans" for 2028.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti also rebukes the idea of his city accepting anything but the 2024 Games.

"We’re solely focused on 2024, and I’d hate to see the United States not bid again in the future, because you know three times burned – assuming that the cards are stacked against us," said Garcetti.

Although Paris and L.A. are steadfast in their assertions that they only want to host the 2024 Games, Jules Boykoff opines for the L.A. Times that the bid cities hold a position of leverage over the IOC for potentially the first time in Olympic history.

"This is actually a ‘positive opportunity’ for the bid teams in Los Angeles and Paris to extract a better deal from the IOC," Boykoff writes. "After years of lopsided dealings between the IOC and the host city in which everyday people shoulder the costs while the IOC and their partners monopolize the benefits, the time is right for a relationship reboot."

Boykoff says that if either city is actually willing to accept the 2028 Games, they should utilize their rare position of power over the IOC to make an organization with $1 billion of reserves help in shouldering the cost of the Games and not local taxpayers.

The IOC’s working group to explore awarding both Games is expected to release a report in July on its feasibility. The IOC will then vote on the host of the 2024 Games on Sep. 13 at its Session in Lima.

Written by Kevin Nutley

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