KEIR RADNEDGE in PARIS —- He couldn’t rule it in and he couldn’t rule it out. By the time Patrick Baumann and his fellow Olympic inspectors sit down to finalise their assessment of 2024 rivals Los Angeles and Paris the Games game may have moved on.
Back on March 17 Thomas Bach opened up the prospect of a historic double award. That was when he set his four vice-presidents of the International Olympic Committee to study whether – or rather, how – to reward both equally outstanding bids between 2024 and 2028.
Baumann, chair of the evaluation commission, has insisted in both California and Paris over the past week that his team’s remit was to study only the bids for 2024. But, as he conceded at a closing press conference today, by the time he draws up a report to be published on July 5, a new day may have dawned on Olympisme.
In June the IOC executive board will have the working group’s conclusion. If it decides on a joint award all that remains will be to decide a mechanism for the September vote in Lima which leaves both cities acclaimed as winners (whatever their private reservations).
Intriguingly the four IOC vice-presidents include Ugur Erdener of Turkey who was a member of Baumann’s commission. The other three are John Coates (Australia), Yu Zaiqing (China) and Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr (Spain).
Baumann knows his work will not be wasted because the IOC needs assurance that its prize possession is in safe hands. But in the case of both LA and Paris there is no doubt and Baumann knows what looms around the political corner.
He said: “The IOC has gone through a lot of changes for more than a decade and now we have gone into Agenda 2020 which brought thoughts about changes in the bid process. We have already implemented them . . . so now we have the reality that things change.
“That’s something in the Olympic movement we have to think consider, discuss. In that context, within this transformation including the new set-up, it is natural to think about whether it’s not just changing the bid process but more than that.
“The IOC vice-presidents are working on this point and will deliver their report . . . after June we will see the next steps.”
Baumann was handed the clearest commitment of national support for Paris at a morning audience with Emmanuel Macron. The new French president has promised to support Paris by attending the major IOC gathering in Lausanne in July.
He said: “We had a good discussion which left no doubts that Paris 2024 has the very strong and solid support of the public authorities from the highest level of government down to the city of Paris.
“The motivation and passion of the bid team has been very impressive and from the tandem at the head of the bid committee, the dynamic duo [co-chairs Tony Estanguet and Bernard Lapasset], we have established a real partnership approach.”
Baumann praised the urban development programme enabled by the bid and a “Games concept which is very robust with venues which are remarkable . . . built around historic buildings and landmarks of extraordinary beauty.”
He will publish his report – for what it may, or may not, be worth and what it may, or may not, consider – on July 5. It will then serve as a discussion document for the IOC and summer sports federations attending the Lausanne bid presentations on July 11-12.
Estanguet, in reviewing the last three days, earned himself a gold medal in understatement to add to his three Olympic canoeing titles.
“Everything went extremely well,” said Estanguet. “The last straight will be extremely interesting.”