New York struck out chasing the 2012 Olympics. Chicago failed in its quest to host the 2016 Games. Organizers with the bid committee in Los Angeles met with their big-city predecessors, studied their mistakes and created a bid that they think doubles as a cost-efficient blueprint of sorts. On Friday, LA 2024 officials hope to receive word that the Olympics is finally returning to American soil, though they'll likely have to wait several weeks to find out precisely when.
Members of the International Olympic Committee's executive board are scheduled to meet Friday in Lausanne, Switzerland, to discuss options for both the 2024 and '28 Games. Both Paris and Los Angeles are vying to host the 2024 Olympics, though many expect the IOC board to award both cities hosting duties, even though the '28 bidding process hasn't formally opened.
At its meeting on Friday, the executive board could vote on a dual award and lay out the process to select which city hosts in 2024 and which has to wait four more years.
Paris officials have been insistent in their preference for the 2024 Games, whereas representatives with LA 2024 have softened their stance and increasingly appear to be open to hosting either. On Wednesday, LA 2024 chair Casey Wasserman issued a statement, saying "LA 2024 has never been only about L.A. or 2024."
"Even when the issue of a dual award for the 2024 and 2028 Games was initially raised, we didn't say it's 'L.A. first' or it's 'now or never' for L.A.: that sounds like an ultimatum," he said. "We could have used that strategy, but we didn't because we thought it was presumptuous to tell the IOC what to do and how to think. We're better partners than that. It has always been our contention that LA 2024 had to make as much sense for the Olympic Movement as it did for the people of L.A. And we've stuck to that premise."
The 2024 bid process has been among the messiest with several cities dropping out, citing the high costs and uncertain returns associated with hosting an Olympics. Boston was initially the preferred U.S. contender before abandoning its bid in July 2015. Finalists cities Hamburg, Rome and Budapest also dropped out, leaving Los Angeles and Paris.
The dual award possibility gained significant momentum in recent months. IOC officials discussed it with the two potential hosts at the Sport Accord conference in Aarhus, Denmark, in April. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told reporters last week, "They've asked us to think about — both Paris and us — what would it take for us to consider one of us going first and the other going second."
While those discussions may have started, LA 2024 officials have been hesitant to publicly discuss the level of negotiations that might have already taken place. If Los Angeles agrees to bump its bid back four years, the committee could ask for more favorable terms in 2028 and perhaps utilize the longer runway to urge the IOC to further invest in sport in the city.
"My dream is not so much just to bring the Olympics here, but to bring youth sports free to every ZIP code," Garcetti said.
A Los Angeles Games would mark the first U.S. Olympics since the Salt Lake Winter Games in 2002 and the first Summer Olympics since the 1996 Atlanta Games.
IOC President Thomas Bach will chair Friday's meeting. He appointed a working group in March to study the 2024/2028 possibility and that group is expected to report its finding to the 14-member executive board. Whatever the board approves will still need to go before the full IOC at its July 11-12 meeting, though most expect the full committee to follow the board's recommendation.
For several weeks, LA 2024 officials have said they've been focused on hosting in 2024, but have also been careful to leave the window cracked open.
"I'm a little unorthodox about this," Garcetti said last month. "I know Paris has at times said, 'No, it's '24 or nothing.' I really do believe in this movement. I will look at that at any given time. Our committee will look at that at any given time, if the rules change.
"But I look at that as much for Paris as I look at it for L.A. That if you can create winners and instead of so many losers, that's good for the movement. And as I think the Olympic movement reassesses how bids are going to be done, we have a lot of good lessons to share. And I think the exciting thing for the possibility of 2024 and 2028, whether it's us first and Paris second or vice versa, is the possibility of a partnership between two cities that are creating an Olympics at the same time. Because there's going to be important lessons that we can pass on and vice versa for Paris."