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Olympic Leaders Signal They Will Name Hosts for 2024 and 2028 Games

LOS ANGELES — A group of leading Olympic officials recommended Friday that the International Olympic Committee simultaneously select two upcoming Summer Games locations — meaning that both Paris and Los Angeles will likely be designated as host cities in a vote later this year.

The action by the IOC’s executive board did not make clear which city will get the 2024 games and which will be awarded the 2028 iteration — a decision that is not expected until September.

The full Olympic committee will convene July 11 and 12 and vote on whether to accept the recommendation to name two consecutive host cities — an unprecedented action that is seen as an acknowledgement of the increasing difficulty of finding cities willing, and able, to host the costly athletic extravaganza.

Image: Los Angeles' Olympic bid committee rendering shows how L.A. Stadium at Hollywood Park would look like after receiving an Olympics-style makeover
A Los Angeles' Olympic bid committee rendering shows how L.A. Stadium at Hollywood Park would look like after receiving an Olympics-style makeover in this image released in Los Angeles, California on May 8, 2017. LA 2024 via Reuters

IOC President Thomas Bach said the change was an acknowledgement that the process for selecting host cities had become too costly and difficult. Boston, Budapest and several other cities pulled themselves out of consideration for the 2024 games after facing opposition over the high costs.

"To put it in a nutshell, the candidate procedure has — for this world we are living in — become too expensive and too onerous for the candidate cities," Bach said in a press conference, "and in this way is producing too many losers."

Bach called Los Angeles and Paris "two big birds in the hand" — cities that were well prepared to host the Summer Games. He declined to speculate on which might host the 2024 games and which the 2028 edition, though close observers of the Olympic movement have said they believe Paris is likely to host the earlier event.

In a joint statement, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and LA 2024 Chairman Casey Wasserman did not restate the city’s preference to host in 2024, saying simply that they wanted “the best path forward for our city and the Olympic Movement’s future.” The two called L.A. “an eternal Olympic city and ideal partner for the IOC” --given already available facilities and strong public support.

IOC chief Bach also announced that the IOC will consider streamlining the bid procedure in the future — reducing the review period from two years to one year and offering substantially more help to bid cities early in the selection process.

"This was about the opportunity we are having in the International Olympic Committee, but we also have challenges," Bach said "and these challenges have been addressed as far as the candidate procedure."

Both Paris and Los Angeles have been pushing to get the 2024 games, following Tokyo as host of the quadrennial event. The French capital was seen as the sentimental choice, with the event falling 100 years after it last hosted the Olympics. The Los Angeles bid committee has depicted itself as the sensible choice because it would need to build no major new venues and would be able to show the world the Games could be staged efficiently and economically.

The French have signaled less willingness to wait the extra four years, until 2028, to host the Olympics. Initially, the leaders of the Parisian proposal even suggested they would reject having their city wait the extra four years — a stance they eventually softened.

The leaders of the Los Angeles Olympic group also said they preferred to stage the 2024 Games, but they have suggested they might be willing to put on the Olympics four years later.

Wasserman, an agent and sports entrepreneur, gave the strongest indication yet earlier this week that the city could adapt to a 2028 event.

“To be blunt, LA 2024 has never been only about L.A. or 2024,” he said in a statement. “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.”

While Wasserman’s words seemed to pave the way for the city to play host four years after Paris, he did not concede the lead position to the French city. And though close observers of the Olympic bidding seem to believe the earlier Games will go to Paris, the IOC has made surprise picks in the past.

Mayor Garcetti was said to be negotiating with the international games group in hopes of landing additional benefits for the city, if it agrees to wait four years to play host.

Garcetti would have an easier time explaining L.A.’s acceptance of the 2028 position if it came with additional perks and the mayor suggested recently what one might be — extra funding for youth sports. "My dream is not so much just to bring the Olympics here, but to bring youth sports for free to every ZIP Code,” Garcetti said at an early June news conference.

IOC chief Bach demurred Friday when asked if the IOC would pledge a specific dollar amount that it would give to a city for waiting an extra four years.

"This, then, will be the topic of the discussions with the candidate cities," Bach said, but only if the full IOC agrees in July to follow the two-city path.

NBC Universal is the U.S. broadcaster for the Olympics through 2032.