LAUSANNE, Switzerland, Feb 14 – Olympic leader Thomas Bach does not like losers and that is why Paris and Los Angeles could this year both win the right to host the world’s biggest and most complicated sporting event.
The French and US mega cities are currently locked in battle to stage the 2024 Olympics, along with outsider Budapest.
There is mounting speculation however that an International Olympic Committee meeting in September could give one of the frontrunners the 2024 Games and at the same time award 2028 to the other.
The double gold medal event could take some twiddling of the Olympic machinery, but Bach said in December: “We have to take into consideration that the procedure as it is now produces too many losers.”
The International Olympic Committee is worried that if Paris or Los Angeles miss out on 2024, they may give up on hosting at all. And in times of economic uncertainty, the IOC cannot afford to lose such quality candidates.
“You can be happy about a strong field in quantity for one day but you start to regret it the next day because then the procedure starts to produce losers and it is not the purpose of an Olympic candidature procedure to produce losers,” Bach said to support his call for change.
The IOC is refusing to say whether reform will be ready for the September 13 vote in Lima. “We are staying with the 2024 process, we are very clear about that,” Christophe Dubi, the IOC executive director for the Olympics, told AFP.
Paris and Los Angeles have both said they are only interested in 2024. However Casey Wasserman, chairman of the Los Angeles 2024 bid committee, said last month that the idea of awarding two Games at the same time was “an interesting concept”.
Sources close to the IOC says a double vote has many advantages.
– Win-win gold –
If Paris loses again after being beaten for 1992 (by Barcelona), 2008 (Beijing) and 2012 (London) it would almost certainly withdraw humiliated and not take part again.
Los Angeles, with its heavyweight US media backers, would almost certainly take the same view.
“I know that the idea of a double vote is on the table,” one source close to the IOC told AFP.
“There is a clear procedure for 2024, that for 2028 is not yet set,” added the source, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the confidentiality of discussions.
“The candidates will have to show that they agree this double campaign. If they say no it will be difficult to impose it on them.”
If Paris, Los Angeles and Budapest agree to the vote change then the IOC will need the back of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) and to talk to countries that have expressed an interest in 2028. Madrid has already said it could be a candidate.
An IOC executive meeting in July could formally propose the move. Then the Olympic charter will also need to be changed, another source close to the Olympic movement said.
“It’s quite clever of Bach,” said Patrick Nally, a sports marketing specialist who was one of the creators of the IOC’s The Olympic Partner (TOP) sponsorship programme.
“Bach is aware the IOC is facing difficulties,” he added. “One of the biggest concerns is what happens if LA doesn’t win.”
The IOC cannot afford to alienate the United States which was “the saviour of the Olympic movement” when it risked financial troubles in the 1980s. Los Angeles held a landmark Games in 1984, NBC stepped in with a major television deal and Coca Cola was a huge sponsor.
Nally said “Paris is a great city, Paris lost a few times before, but it s not commercially so important for the structure of IOC.”
Bach “cannot afford to risk upsetting and destroying the one market IOC is totally dependent on.”
Nally said the IOC president has support among key Olympic members for a double vote. “It is a very practical suggestion; let’s make everybody winners and the Olympic movement a winner.”