Paris stops short of claiming Olympic victory after LA announcement

Paris is celebrating outright victory in its bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games despite cautionary rhetoric from French President Emmanuel Macron and bid leaders.
Paris stops short of claiming Olympic victory after LA announcement

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks alongside LA 2024 Bid Chairman Casey Wasserman (left) and City Council President Herb Wesson (right) during the announcement that the city of Los Angeles will host the 2028 Olympic Games, in Carson, California, on July 31, 2017.

After failing three times in recent bids, sheer joy was expected from Paris officials when Los Angeles ceded the 2024 Olympics to the City of Lights.

Paris bid leaders, however, opted for a diplomatic approach, stopping short of claiming the 2024 Games were guaranteed to be organized in their city.

"Paris 2024 is proud to be working together with the IOC and our friends in Los Angeles to reach a positive solution for both cities, the games and the whole Olympic Movement for 2024 and 2028," bid committee co-chairman Tony Estanguet said. "(The) announcements are a sign of the progress being made and the delivery of a good solution to the IOC members in September in Lima."

The L'Equipe sports newspaper was more enthusiastic on Tuesday, celebrating the French capital's victory by running a front page headline claiming "La Joie est Libre!" — a play of words on the expression "La Voie est Libre," which means the way has been cleared.

Although optimistic, Paris bid leaders remained cautious in their official reactions. That attitude is consistent with their position since launching the bid a little but more than two years ago, which contrasted with the perceived arrogance in previous bids for the 1992, 2008, and 2012 Games.

The last time it bid, Paris was considered the favorite in the race for the 2012 Olympics, only to lose out to London in a close vote in 2005 following a poor lobbying campaign. This time, it opted for a more humble and sports-driven approach, leaving government officials in a supporting role and making sure all the political hurdles were cleared before going forward.

There was no direct reaction from French President Emmanuel Macron, a strong supporter of the Paris project, and other officials said they would not celebrate until a three-way deal between Los Angeles, Paris and the International Olympic Committee is officially announced on September 13 in Lima, Peru.

Macron's office issued a statement on Tuesday saying that the French president spoke with IOC President Thomas Bach and that France "took note of Los Angeles' decision to bid for 2028 and to find a deal with the IOC and Paris".

"French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes this very important step towards obtaining the games for France in 2024 and remains very committed to make our country's bid win with all the French, the athletes, and all partners involved," the statement said.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who played a key role in convincing the IOC that Paris was the right city for 2024 by hammering the message that her city was not interested in hosting the 2028 edition, only said she was confident a "win-win-win" agreement can be secured ahead of the IOC session in Peru.

"Paris and Los Angeles are two amazing global cities that are united in their support of the Olympic cause and we stand together now to help the games thrive in 2024 and 2028," Hidalgo said. "As today's announcement shows, dialogue between the IOC and the two cities is progressing well."

Major hiccup

Barring a major hiccup ahead of the IOC session, Paris will be hosting the Olympics for the first time in 100 years. Besides 1924, the French capital also hosted the Olympics in 1900.

The French capital has insisted it only wanted to host the Games in 2024, on the 100th anniversary of the city's 1924 Olympics, prompting Los Angeles to soften its stance and consider hosting the 2028 Games.

And confirmation of the decision everyone was expecting came on Monday night.

"I am proud to announce the Olympic Games are coming back to the United States of America," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a ceremony at the StubHub Center stadium in Carson, California.

"In 2028, we are bringing the games back to LA, one of the great capitals of the Olympic movement. A city that has always been a games changer and will be again in 2028."

LA officials, who had put forward a US$5.3 billion bid for 2024, said an agreement had been reached with the IOC on financial considerations that would make waiting an extra four years feasible.

Bid chief Casey Wasserman said the IOC had waived various fees and payments that could ultimately save LA organizers millions.

The IOC will also advance US$180 million to LA organizers to lessen the impact of the longer lead-up time, money that normally wouldn't be disbursed until closer to the games kickoff.

It will bring the games back to Los Angeles for a third time, after the city hosted in 1932 and 1984.

The agreement must still be approved by the Los Angeles City Council and the United States Olympic Committee — both of which backed the 2024 bid.

But Bach said he expected any remaining hurdles to be cleared.

"We are very confident that we can reach a tripartite agreement under the leadership of the IOC with LA and Paris in August, creating a win-win-win situation for all three partners," he said.

The USA last hosted the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1996 while the Winter Games were held in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2002.

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