GENEVA (AP) — Los Angeles and Paris should edge closer Friday to both getting Olympic hosting rights.
Ahead of a key meeting of the International Olympic Committee executive board, the French capital is now seen as the favorite to host the 2024 Games. But that doesn't mean that LA will get left out in the cold.
The strangest Olympic bidding race in four decades will take clearer shape when the IOC board weighs opening up the 2024 contest to also include the 2028 award in September.
The expected agreement would fulfil IOC President Thomas Bach's wish to avoid making a loser of either world-class candidate, though it must be ratified by the Olympic body's voting members.
By meeting on Friday, the IOC can give the required month notice to upgrade an already scheduled 2024 campaign event in Lausanne into a formal session with rule-changing power. On July 11, up to 95 members are due in Lausanne to see LA and Paris bid leaders present their projects.
The likely process lets IOC members retain their most important job of voting for Olympic hosts on Sept. 13 in Lima, Peru, to open the regular session. That's because the issue of which city gets 2024 and which must wait four more years will not be resolved Friday.
Still, LA officials have set a tone suggesting they could accept 2028. That would help give the IOC clarity and security for the next decade after a turbulent period of cost overruns by Olympic host cities and local voters sinking potential bids, including some former rivals in the current contest.
"To be blunt, LA 2024 has never been only about LA or 2024," Casey Wasserman, chairman of the LA 2024 bid, said in a statement Thursday. "Even when the issue of a dual award for the 2024 and 2028 Games was initially raised, we didn't say it's 'LA first' or it's 'now or never' for LA: that sounds like an ultimatum."
Paris, however, has stood by its claim that land to build a 1.7 billion euro ($1.9 billion) athletes village is guaranteed only for 2024.
Los Angeles, Wasserman suggested, declined a similar strategy "because we thought it was presumptuous to tell the IOC what to do and how to think. We're better partners than that."
The Paris bid declined requests to react to Wasserman's comments.
The IOC would prefer a consensus to emerge rather than impose a deal on the cities, and LA could be rewarded for being the most flexible.
"My dream is not so much just to bring the Olympics here, but is to bring youth sports for free to every zip code," LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said last week in confirming talks with the IOC to explore "what it would take" to agree which city would host first.
Both seek to follow London as three-time Olympic hosts. Paris hosted in 1900 and 1924, and Los Angeles in 1932 and 1984. Almost 40 years ago, LA was left as the only candidate when the Olympic hosting brand suffered in the 1970s.
Bach has sought to protect the IOC by driving the double award idea since December, though he asked his four vice presidents to draft a proposal for Friday's meeting.
The IOC president "has done an excellent job of managing the process so far," Michael Payne, the Olympic body's former marketing director and a consultant to LA, told The Associated Press in Lausanne this week.
"I think you will get three winners out of it — the IOC and the two cities," Payne said, predicting that members would support a 2024-2028 award next month because "there is increasing recognition that this is what has got to be done."
The 13-member board chaired by Bach has two American members — Anita DeFrantz and Angela Ruggiero. They should leave the room during the debate.
In other business Friday, the upcoming 2026 Winter Games bidding rules will be reviewed, with 2030 now also seeming in play if two strong candidates enter.
New medal events, led by 3-on-3 basketball, are also set to be added to the final 2020 Tokyo Olympic program. Some existing events could be dropped to make space after consultation with Olympic sports federations.
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