Olympics' worst-kept secret revealed as next host cities announced

14 Sep 2017

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Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo (c) speaks with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in Peru (AAP) (AAP)

SBS World News Radio: Paris and Los Angeles have been officially named as the sites for the 2024 and 2028 summer Olympic Games.

 

 

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But the announcement the two cities will both host their third games has come against the backdrop of more corruption and cost concerns surrounding the Olympic movement.

As awarding Olympics to prospective host cities go, this one in the Peru capital of Lima had little of the suspense or excitement of previous announcements.

With Hamburg, Rome and Budapest dropping out of the race, it was left to International Olympic committee president Thomas Bach to confirm the allocation of the 2024 and 2028 games.

Which he did, describing it as a win-win-win for Paris, Los Angeles and the entire Olympic movement.

"It is therefore my great pleasure to announce today that the tri-partite agreement between the cities of Paris and Los Angeles, the national Olympic Committees and the IOC has been reached."

Both cities had wanted the 2024 event but under the deal, the French capital will get those games and LA, the 2028 Oympics.

It will mark a hundred years since Paris last hosted the games in 1924 after its earlier Olympics in 1900.

Los Angeles is also a veteran Olympic hoster, having conducted the 1932 and 1984 events.

The Californian city called in American sprinter and Olympic champion Allyson Felix to sell its story.

"I train at UCLA, which will be our Olympic village in 2028. There are many foreign athletes that train there as well and you know what? That is fine with me. At the end of the day, sport is about friendship and fair play, not about nationality, colour or creed. This is the same time of welcoming spirit you can expect in LA."

It's the first time the IOC has awarded two games simultaneously but it also comes as the organisation seeks to repair its damaged reputation after scandals involving corruption and Russia's systematic doping of atheletes.

Only this week, Ireland's former Olympic chief Pat Hickey resigned from the IOC's executive board after becoming embroiled in a ticket-selling scandal at last year's Rio Games.

The 72 year-old - who denies the charges - was arrested by Brazilian police during the Games and held in jail.

Long-time IOC member Dick Pound has told the BBC the organisation urgently needs to address the smouldering issues.

"I have thought since we messed up in Rio, in not removing the Russians, that we have taken a severe hit to our credibility and that hasn't got any better, and every time any IOC member is implicated in something potentially nefarious we lose more credibility and that concerns me and a lot of my colleagues."

Israel's veteran IOC member, Alex Gilady isn't one of these and staunchly defends the organisation.

He says its reputation shouldn't be tarnished by the actions of a few.

"The people that are talking in the media are talking because they have nothing else to talk about because everything is going very well, very calm. There is no system in the world - not in your government, not in your administration - where from time to time there will appear someone who is trying to do marm, whatever the congregation. We are looking at it, we are studying it but we have to wait for the results of the courts."

As for the two announced host cities, any IOC scandals weren't dimming their excitement at the prospect of hosting one of the world's biggest - and most expensive - international sporting events.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo says the dual announcement will allow unprecedented cooperation between two Olympic cities in the lead up to the games.

"Today we are very proud and very happy for our country for my city of course. But when Paris wins, France wins also and we know that with this new opportunity to work with the IOC, with LA in this new partnership, we have a lot to do together and we can promote hope for the young people."

Her LA counterpart Eric Garcetti praised the agreement that allowed both cities to emerge victors.

"You think about it, it might feel subtle, but usually you have two or three cities crying in a corner, the press comes how do you feel to a group that's just lost and one glorious victor. When in this world I think we have enough losers today or enough divisions today or enough people who go after their dreams only to have them crushed. Today, I think we model something different that dreams can come true for two cities, for a movement, for a people together."

While both cities are confident of containing costs, IOC boss Thomas Bach says one of the great unknowns is just how much organisers will need to spend keeping athletes and spectators safe.

"Security is always a top priority for any major event and in particular for the Olympic Games and the athletes. Who can tell you now what the security situation will be in seven years?"

It's a question likely to play on the minds of organisers as celebrations give way to the realities of hosting such a major event in an era of such major uncertainty.

 

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