Paris celebrates 2024 Olympic win as LA accepts 2028 consolation

Françoise CHAPTAL

Paris (AFP) - Paris was celebrating victory on Tuesday in its bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games after Los Angeles announced its intention to host the 2028 event instead in return for financial sweeteners.

Officially, French President Emmanuel Macron gave Monday's announcement by Los Angeles a cautious welcome, hailing a "very important step" on the road to hosting the Games.

The deal was described by International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach as a "win-win-win" agreement for both cities and the Olympic movement.

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But despite the fact that Paris is now effectively the only remaining candidate to host the 2024 Summer Games, Macron and other bid leaders shied away from overt triumphalism until an official announcement.

"France notes the decision of Los Angeles to put forward its candidature for 2028 and to reach an agreement with the IOC and Paris," a statement from Macron's office said.

Macron spoke to Bach following Los Angeles' announcement and was "delighted by this very important step towards France obtaining the Games in 2024".

Announcing the decision on Monday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said "this deal was too good to pass up".

French newspapers celebrated on Tuesday, with a headline on the front page of Le Parisien declaring: "This time we've won it."

Tony Estanguet, a three-time Olympic canoe slalom champion and the Paris bid co-leader, refused to get quite so carried away, saying: "We have been in this competition with the objective of getting the 2024 Games and we closed in on that last night.

"We can feel that there is a lot of satisfaction and enthusiasm. We feel that it is happening and it's great."

Paris, which will host the Games for a third time, endured the disappointment of failed bids in 1992, 2008 and 2012.

Both Paris and Los Angeles had wanted to host the 2024 Olympics, with the winner to be officially named by the IOC on September 13 in the Peruvian capital Lima.

But the possibility that Los Angeles would abandon a 2024 bid and instead accept the 2028 Games has been growing since the IOC decided in July that it would attempt to award both Games at its Lima meeting.

The French capital insisted it only wanted to host the Games in 2024, on the 100th anniversary of the city's 1924 Olympics, prompting Los Angeles to soften its stance and consider hosting the 2028 Games.

- 'Proud' -

And confirmation of the decision everyone was expecting came on Monday night.

"I am proud to announce the Olympic Games are coming back to the United States of America," Mayor Garcetti said at a ceremony at the StubHub Center stadium.

"In 2028, we are bringing the Games back to LA, one of the great capitals of the Olympic movement. A city that has always been a Games changer and will be again in 2028."

LA officials, who had put forward a $5.3 billion (4.5 billion euros) bid for 2024, said an agreement had been reached with the IOC on financial considerations that would make waiting an extra four years feasible.

Bid chief Casey Wasserman said the IOC had waived various fees and payments that could ultimately save LA organisers millions.

The IOC will also advance $180 million to LA organisers to lessen the impact of the longer lead-up time, money that normally would not be disbursed until closer to the Games kickoff.

"The IOC contribution as stipulated by the HCC (Host City Contract) is $1.8 billion and has the potential to exceed $2 billion according to the evaluation of the LA bid committee when taking into account the estimated value of existing sponsor agreements to be renewed and potential new marketing deals," the bid committee said in a statement.

Like Paris, this will bring the Games back to Los Angeles for a third time, after the city hosted in 1932 and 1984.

The agreement must still be approved by the Los Angeles City Council and the United States Olympic Committee -- both of which backed the 2024 bid.

But Bach said he expected any remaining hurdles to be cleared.

"We are very confident that we can reach a tripartite agreement under the leadership of the IOC with LA and Paris in August, creating a win-win-win situation for all three partners," he said.

The United States last hosted the Summer Olympics in Atlanta in 1996 while the Winter Games were held in Salt Lake City in 2002.

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