After spending last week in Los Angeles, Patrick Baumann and the IOC Evaluation Commission traveled to Paris to continue their whirlwind tour of the two remaining bids to host the 2024 Summer Olympics. Having heaped high praise on LA 2024, Baumann and his fellow IOC members came away equally impressed with Paris 2024.
“We’re fortunate that we have two city candidates who do not present major risks that we’ve been able to highlight to host the Olympic Games,” Baumann said on Tuesday.
Baumann acknowledged the “differing visions” between the two bids. Los Angeles is proposing a fiscally responsible and sustainable Olympics spread out across four sports parks that already boast world-class competition venues (such as Staples Center and LA Coliseum). Paris is promising a more centrally located and compact Games experience with iconic landmarks, such as beach volleyball at the base of the Eiffel Tower, but also requires an infrastructure budget of $4.5 billion to build venues.
The similarities? Both cities have hosted twice before (LA in 1932 and 1984, Paris in 1900 and 1924). Both host countries have newly elected presidents. That last factor very well could be the tiebreaker.
French President Emmanuel Macron reportedly told Baumann that he will attend the IOC debriefing in Switzerland in July, when the bid committees can make one last pitch. Macron also plans to be at the Sept. 13 vote in Lima, Peru. He personally showed his support for Paris 2024 by holding a one-hour meeting with the IOC two days after his inauguration.
LA 2024 has the backing of President Donald Trump. But bid chairman Casey Wasserman is wary of inviting Trump to Lima after hearing “bad stories” involving then-President Barack Obama at the 2009 vote in Copenhagen. IOC members apparently were so infuriated by the lengthy security detail for Obama that some chose not to vote for Chicago’s bid. Rio de Janeiro ended up winning the ’16 Summer Games.
“Both cities have the Olympic tradition, both cities have the venues we need, both cities have very dedicated and motivated teams that want to lead that,” Baumann said.
“IOC members,” he added, “will have to choose between one vision or the other.”
Or they can take the easy way out and award both cities with its own Olympics, one for 2024 and the other for 2028.