Los Angeles, Paris await Olympic inspectors in 2024 race

Los Angeles, Paris await Olympic inspectors in 2024 race

GENEVA — Los Angeles and Paris, both already seen as winning options for the 2024 Games, await their Olympic inspectors this week.

The cities will host three-day visits by an International Olympic Committee panel, whose chairman has no doubt about their hosting credentials.

“I think today at least you can already say, either way, we will have fantastic Olympic Games,” IOC evaluation commission chairman Patrick Baumann told The Associated Press.

IOC President Thomas Bach seems so sure of the candidates’ qualities that he asked his four vice-presidents for advice on also bringing the 2028 Olympics into play, rewarding both cities with hosting duties. That guidance is due in July, so Baumann’s 13-member group will press on with scheduled work in Los Angeles starting Wednesday, then in Paris from Sunday. Each visit ends with Baumann taking questions at a news conference.

“There is no change in the scope and the role and the mandate,” Baumann said of the possible dual award affecting his eventual report to IOC members.

In the typically secretive world of Olympics elections, it is unclear how many voting members are swayed by the type of report they will get from Baumann’s team on July 5.

IOC inspections typically do not rank candidate cities, and a more flexible evaluation process introduced for the 2024 contest will look to stress the positives. The IOC says it will also publish the report on its website.

“It is not about finding the black spot,” Baumann, an IOC member from Switzerland, said in a recent interview. “It is, of course, to highlight challenges if there are, but also and mainly to highlight the opportunities.”

Baumann acknowledged that the “differences are going to be extremely small” between two obviously world-class cities.

Still, the Olympic hosting model has been burned by recent high-spending and budget-busting hosts. Baumann cautioned that “realistic financing” is a key factor to avoid an unwanted legacy of tax hikes and white elephant venues.

A privately funded Los Angeles project also differs from a more European model in Paris that looks to some taxpayer money toward projected spending of 3 billion euros ($3.2 billion) on new venues and buildings.

France’s President-elect, Emmanuel Macron, will be inaugurated Sunday in Paris when the IOC team starts work. Olympic bidders need federal support for security operations.

Macron will take over from Francois Hollande, whose strong backing for the Paris bid included travelling to meet Bach in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Macron’s election has spared Paris officials from questions about how a far-right presidency of Marine Le Pen might play with the IOC. Its global pool of members includes one from Syria, which is targeted for a travel ban from Muslim-majority countries by President Donald Trump.

Still, bid cities rely more on city mayors than state presidents, and Paris has put civic leader Anne Hidalgo at the heart of its campaign.

In political terms, Baumann noted that the two bids come from countries that are “organized differently in sports terms.” He pointed to his experience staging events in the United States and France as secretary general of basketball’s governing body, FIBA.

“That doesn’t diminish in any way one bid versus the other, it’s just different,” the Swiss official said. “That difference is something that also the IOC membership needs to understand.”

About 88 of the current 95 IOC members are entitled to choose the 2024 host in a vote scheduled for Sept. 13 in Lima, Peru. American and French members will be barred from voting, and others have recused themselves while under investigation.

Plans could change during politicking from July 9-12 in Lausanne.

First, a two-day meeting of the IOC executive board will hear the vice-presidents’ advice. Bid leaders from LA and Paris will then make separate presentations to IOC members.

By the evening of July 12 it could be clear if both Los Angeles and Paris will win in a doubled-up 2024-2028 contest — though in which order may be unresolved. Neither city has offered to take the later option.

For Baumann, the two cities’ aims should stay the same for the next week, and next decade.

“How are you going deliver a great experience for the athletes?” Baumann said. “How are you going deliver a great experience for the fans? And how are you going to deliver on the legacy of the promises and the ideas that the bid committee has put on paper?”

Graham Dunbar, The Associated Press

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