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Paris, Los Angeles confirmed as Olympic hosts

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Lima , Peru (AFP) — The International Olympic Committee (IOC) named Paris and Los Angeles as hosts for the 2024 and 2028 Olympics yesterday, crowning two cities at the same time in a historic first for the embattled sports body.

Loud applause rang out at the Lima Convention Centre shortly after IOC members voted unanimously to rubber-stamp a deal hashed out in July for Paris to be given 2024 and Los Angeles 2028.

Paris and Los Angeles bid leaders joined International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach on stage as the award was confirmed, embracing after an outcome hailed as a “win-win-win” by the IOC.

“It's a magical, unique victory,” jubilant Paris 2024 bid co-leader Tony Estanguet said afterwards. “I'm feeling an emotion I have felt only rarely in my life.”

President Emmanuel Macron hailed the decision as a “victory for France” and said the Games were a “tremendous opportunity” for the country.

Los Angeles 2028 leaders were similarly ecstatic.

“It's thrilling. It was emotional, nerve-wracking and exciting. There wasn't a whole lot of suspense but it was a very special day,” bid Chairman Casey Wasserman told AFP.

The vote marked the final act of a campaign that had been stripped of the usual intrigue ever since Paris and Los Angeles agreed to carve up 2024 and 2028 in July, following encouragement from the IOC.

Paris 2024 officials hugged and cheered following the vote, basking in victory after three previous failed bids to land the 1992, 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

The 2024 Games will mark the third time Paris has staged the Olympics, coming exactly 100 years after they last hosted the Games.

“It's a great feeling of happiness to be bringing the Games back to Paris after 100 years,” Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said.

In Paris, giant Olympic rings were unveiled in front of the Eiffel Tower just after the announcement was made; as a small crowd celebrated in driving rain.

Los Angeles 2028 officials also expressed delight at the return of the Olympics to US soil.

“There was a real feeling of solidarity, co-operation and happiness, which I think is what this movement is supposed to be about,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told AFP. “For my city I couldn't be happier.”

The 2028 Olympics will be the first held in the United States since the chaotic 1996 Games in Atlanta.

It will also mark the third time that Los Angeles has hosted the Olympics, following successful editions in 1932 and 1984.

Paris and Los Angeles emerged from the initial bidding race for the 2024 Games after a number of cities withdrew, citing waning public support and concerns over budget.

Hamburg, Rome, Budapest and Boston all fell by the wayside during the competition, reflecting the political difficulties in persuading voters that staging the Olympics is worth the multi-billion-dollar price tag.

IOC chief Bach first signalled publicly that the double award of an Olympics could be on the agenda in December last year, lamenting that the bidding process produced “too many losers”.

As the tussle for 2024 unfolded, and as the field thinned to leave just Los Angeles and Paris, the IOC's determination to secure two high-quality bids for the next two Summer Games became apparent.

In July, the IOC announced it would award the staging rights for the 2024 and 2028 Olympics at the same meeting in Lima, laying the way for a swift agreement between the two over the running order.

“We cracked the code when the IOC changed the formula,” Garcetti told AFP. “We've talked to a lot of folks who said it used to be about one corner of the room celebrating and the rest crying.”

The drama-free conclusion to the race also eliminates the risk of the vote being tainted by the sort of scandal that has embroiled the ballot for the 2016 Olympics.

The IOC was left tackling a fresh wave of graft allegations last week when investigators in Brazil swooped on the country's Olympics chief Carlos Nuzman.

Nuzman stands accused of plotting to bribe IOC members into awarding Rio de Janeiro the 2016 Games at a 2009 vote in Copenhagen.

The allegations swirling around Rio's bid revived memories of the Salt Lake City bribery scandal, which led to 20 IOC members being either kicked out of the Olympics' ruling body or pleading guilty to accepting bribes for votes.

French investigators, meanwhile, have already announced they are investigating the 2013 vote in Buenos Aires which awarded the 2020 Olympics to Tokyo, following reports of secret payments into a Singapore-based bank account linked to the son of disgraced former world athletics chief Lamine Diack.