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Olympic double: IOC says yes to Paris in 24, and LA for 28

Olympic double: IOC says yes to Paris in 24, and LA for 28

September 14th, 2017 in International News

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach speaks during the opening IOC session in Lima, Peru, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017. The IOC will vote to ratify Los Angeles as the host city of the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games and Paris as the host city of the 2024 Games. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

LIMA, Peru (AP) — This was one of those rare Olympic moments where everyone walked away a winner.

Paris for 2024. Los Angeles for 2028. And the International Olympic Committee for transforming an unruly bidding process to lock down its future by choosing not one, but two Summer Olympics hosts at the same time.

The IOC put the rubber stamp on a pre-determined conclusion Wednesday, giving Paris the 2024 Games and LA the 2028 Games in a history-making vote.

The decision marks the first time the IOC has granted two Summer Olympics at once. It came after a year's worth of scrambling by IOC president Thomas Bach, who had only the two bidders left for the original prize, 2024, and couldn't bear to see either lose.

Both cities will host their third Olympics.

The Paris Games will come on the 100th anniversary of its last turn — a milestone that would have made the French capital the sentimental favorite had only 2024 been up for grabs.

Los Angeles moved to 2028, and those Olympics will halt a stretch of 32 years without a Summer Games in the United States. In exchange for the compromise, LA will grab an extra $300 million or more that could help offset the uncertainties that lie ahead over an 11-year wait instead of seven.

Doing away with the dramatic flair that has accompanied these events in years past, there were no secret ballots and no dramatic reveals to close out the voting.

Bach simply asked for a show of hands from the audience, and when dozens shot up from the audience, and nobody raised their hand when he asked for objections, this was deemed a unanimous decision.

A ceremony that has long sparked parties in the plazas of winning cities — and crying in those of the losers — produced more muted, but still visible, shows of emotion. Paris bid organizer Tony Estaguent choked up during the presentation before the vote.

"You can't imagine what this means to us. To all of us. It's so strong," he said.

Later, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo stood by Bach's side and dabbed away tears as the vote was announced and the IOC president handed the traditional — but now unneeded — cards to she and LA mayor Eric Garcetti. One read "Paris 2024,' and the other "Los Angeles 2028."

Bach asked the 94 IOC members to allow the real contests to play out at the Olympics themselves and turn the vote into a pure business decision — not a bad idea considering the news still seeping out about a bid scandal involving a Brazilian IOC member's alleged vote-selling to bring the 2016 Olympics to Rio de Janeiro.

The public in many cities, especially those in the Western democracies that have hosted the majority of these games, is no longer eager to approve blank checks for bid committees and governments that have to come up with the millions simply to bid for the Olympics, then billions more to stage them if they win.

That reality hit hard when three of the original five bidders for 2024 — Rome, Hamburg, Germany, and Budapest, Hungary — dropped out, and the U.S. Olympic Committee had to pull the plug on its initial candidate, Boston, due to lack of public support.

"This is a solution to an awkward problem," said longtime IOC member Dick Pound of Canada. "Many of the (candidate) cities are not prepared. They say, 'Let's have an Olympics,' but they haven't done the background work, checked the finances. But I guess we have to share it and say, 'Have you done A, B, C, and D?'"

Only two candidates made it to the finish line — Paris and Los Angeles, each with a storied tradition of Olympic hosting and an apparent understanding of Bach's much-touted reform package, known as Agenda 2020. It seeks to streamline the Games, most notably by eliminating billion-dollar stadiums and infrastructure projects that have been underused, if used at all, once the Olympics leave town.