Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti noted that 37 times in Olympic history, competitors have tied and shared a gold medal.
“Maybe today is 38,” he said Tuesday, not long after learning Los Angeles and Paris are effectively both winners of their months-long competition to host an upcoming Summer Olympics.
Garcetti sat at a dais in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Tuesday afternoon just a couple of feet from Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo. The International Olympic Committee had voted unanimously to move forward with a dual award for the 2024 and 2028 Summer Games, and over the next several weeks the three parties will negotiate over which city will host first. Garcetti said he had “full confidence we will get there,” but would not speculate on how talks might unfold.
“I’m not being coy,” he said at a news conference following the IOC’s vote. “We don’t have it worked out sitting here either — who goes when. I just have the confidence that it will. Both cities have to assess now that the rules have changed. . . . We will sit with our team, Paris will sit with its team, and we will look at our options.”
Both cities entered the hunt to host in 2024; one will presumably have to agree to wait four more years. During its meeting Tuesday, the IOC saw presentations from both the Paris and Los Angeles committees — “mind-blowing,” IOC President Thomas Bach called them, “highly professional and emotional at the same time” — and then discussed the merits of a dual award.
The IOC voted to allow its executive board to begin negotiating with the two cities in hopes of striking an agreement that works for all three parties. If an agreement can be reached in the next two months, the IOC would still need to ratify the deal at its September 13 meeting in Lima, Peru. In the event that the three parties can’t come to terms, the IOC would then vote on only the 2024 host.
“L.A. is ready to throw these in two months if we were asked, or two decades if it came to that,” Garcetti said.
While speculation has focused on Paris hosting first, the American contingent surely saw Tuesday’s vote as welcome news. Not long after the LA 2024 group made its presentation, an ocean away President Trump tweeted, “Working hard to get the Olympics for the United States (L.A.). Stay tuned!”
Since the U.S. presidential election last November, there has been chatter among Olympic watchers about Trump’s impact on Los Angeles’ bid. Trump was not at the IOC session, though, and was not part of the LA 2024 presentation. French President Emmanuel Macron was in Lausanne, actively lobbying for the Paris bid and meeting with the IOC and members of the international media.
While Paris has been steadfast in its desire to host the 2024 Games, the LA 2024 committee has repeatedly expressed willingness to compromise.
“Our objective is to best serve the IOC’s needs, not only ours,” Casey Wasserman, chair of the LA 2024 committee, said at a news conference. “That’s why we’ve never given an ultimatum about 2024.”
While the LA 2024 presentation was closed to the media, Wasserman said only one IOC member inquired about the possibility of waiting until 2028. “It was really, ‘Are you competing for 2024?’ and the mayor very clearly and concisely responded, ‘Yes, we are in the competition for 2024,’” Wasserman said.
While the IOC’s bidding process has been roundly criticized in recent years, prompting several cities to back out of the hunt because of high costs and low public support, Bach said this week both the Los Angeles and Paris bids “will set a precedent and make the Games more feasible and more sustainable in the future.”
The unprecedented dual award has been in the works for months. Since late last year, after Boston, Hamburg, Budapest and Rome all bowed out, Bach has acknowledged pitfalls with the bidding process. In March he appointed a working group to explore the viability of a dual award, and on June 8, the IOC’s influential executive committee voted unanimously to recommend a dual award to the full 95-member body.
“This is a golden opportunity for today,” Bach said at a news conference, “but it is a really great, great importance for the future of the Olympic Games because ensuring stability of the Olympic Games for 11 years is really in our world something extraordinary.”
While Paris has proposed a visually stunning Summer Games with classic backdrops, Los Angeles’ bid is cost-effective, relying on existing venues or infrastructure that will be built regardless of the Olympics.
The United States has not hosted an Olympics since the Salt Lake City Winter Games in 2002 and before that the Atlanta Summer Games in 1996. It had previously tried to lure the 2012 Games to New York and the 2016 Olympics to Chicago, failing both times.
“Not only is it the most remarkable U.S. bid that we’ve put forward . . . but we believe it’s the bid that will provide the maximum benefit to the Olympic and Paralympic movements at this especially important time,” Scott Blackmun, the U.S. Olympic Committee’s CEO, said at a news conference.