KEIR RADNEDGE in PARIS —- Paris and Los Angeles appear locked in a bidding dead-heat for the 2024 Olympic Games which, however vehemently both teams refuse to discuss it, can surely lead only to a double award by the IOC in Lima on September 13.
Last week the International Olympic Committee’s evaluation commission, led by Swiss IOC member Patrick Baumann, ran the rule over Los Angeles; now he and his panel are in the French capital.
Baumann was effusive in praise of LA’s plans but the similar strength of the Paris project meant he could be happily diplomatic after a first day’s discussion and say that, for both cities, “it’s almost impossible to go under 10 out of 10.”
Even so, with the IOC’s executive board on June 8 due to considers its vice-presidents’ review of a double award option, Paris appeared to have struck two important blows.
One was the boast of a “world-class public transport system” and the second a diplomatic coup in a meeting for Baumann’s team on Tuesday morning with Emmanuel Macron, formally handed the French presidency only on Sunday morning.
Bid co-president Bernard Lapasset said: “It’s an honour he is bestowing on us considering his agenda. He has taken on his role today, tomorrow he is going abroad (to Germany) so his first visit here as president is to meet the IOC and the bid committee.”
The significance of the honour will not be lost on IOC members who have a high opinion of their own status on the world stage; Los Angeles was unable to reel in such a matching audience with United States President Donald Trump.
Baumann, secretary-general of the international basketball federation FIBA, and his team are no strangers to Paris but learning about the bid demanded they start from scratch under the guidance of bid co-chairs Tony Estanguet and Bernard Lapasset, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and their support teams.
Vision, concept, security, governance and legacy all came in for review ahead of Tuesday’s on-site venues tour.
Baumann said: “We heard about the added value that Paris would bring to the Games. Our friends from Paris 2024 offered us an exceptional presentation of their project, very well detailed with tangible opportunities from the sporting, social and educational point of view for the city, the region and the country.”
By comparison with the failed 2012 bid – lost to London – this Paris bid features major input from athletes themselves.
The point was not lost on Baumann who noted: “Paris 2024 has worked a lot with the athletes to ensure the athletes would would live an extraordinary experience during the Games both outside the Village halls and within the overall Games concept.”
The bid committee stressed the staging incorporation of the city’s iconic landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and, Baumann thought, “showed extraordinary enthusiasm and determination to bring the games to Paris and leave a tangible legacy for years to come.”
The IOC’s own important bid cities’ polls results will be kept under wraps until Baumann presents and publishes his evaluation report on July 5.
Baumann and then Estanguet and Lapasset in their own assessment of the day’s work, insisted that the only Games up for grabs are those of 2024, not 2028.
However Baumann did drop a hostage to fortune in answering an insistent question by saying: “We have two fantastic cities bidding for 24 and it [ie a double award] could be a win/win for everyone. We would have good points to the right and good points to the left. We have two extraordinary cities though very different. These are two big cities, two Olympic cities.
“Paris has hosted the Games twice and Los Angeles has hosted the Games twice as well. There is an Olympic spirit which is very strong in both cities and I think it’s almost impossible to go under 10 out of 10 for both of them from that point of view.”