The International Olympic Committee (IOC) today opens a week of high-level meetings, preparing to rubber-stamp the hosts of the 2024 and 2028 Olympics, as the movement battles a fresh wave of corruption revelations.
For the first time since the awarding of the 1984 Olympics, the usual frenzy of last-minute lobbying and politicking by rival bid cities and heads of state will be strikingly absent in Lima.
In a historic move, the IOC has brokered an agreement that will see Paris handed the 2024 Games with Los Angeles awarded 2028.
IOC members are set to green light the deal at a meeting on Wednesday following 25-minute presentations by Paris and Los Angeles, the last two cities left in the initial race for the 2024 Summer Olympics.
The formal ratification of the 2024 and 2028 deal will mark the end of a mostly good-natured bidding campaign notable for the number of cities who withdrew from the race citing waning public support and concerns over budget.
Hamburg, Rome, Budapest and Boston, all fell by the wayside during the competition, reflecting the political difficulties in persuading voters that staging the Olympics is worth the multibillion-dollar price tag.
IOC president Thomas Bach first signaled publicly that the double-award of an Olympics could be on the agenda in December last year, lamenting that the bidding process produced “too many losers.”
As the bidding battle for 2024 unfolded, and as the field thinned to leave Paris and Los Angeles as the last bids standing, the IOC’s determination to lock in two high-quality cities for the next two summer Games became apparent.
Paris and Los Angeles, who have slick bids which emphasize a high-level of venue readiness, both wowed the IOC’s Evaluation Commission during back-to-back visits in May.
In July, the IOC announced it would award the staging rights for the 2024 and 2028 Olympics at the same meeting in Lima.
With Los Angeles offered financial sweeteners to step aside for Paris in 2024, the fait accompli that will be inked this week was confirmed on July 31.
Bach, who has saluted the deal as a “win-win-win” for the two cities and the Olympic movement, could not hide his delight after arriving in Lima on Thursday last week for what should be a drama-free meeting.
“It is very special, it can be a historic decision,” Bach said. “There are two great cities. Allocating the Olympic Games is not about quantity, it’s about quality. It’s finding the best possible host for the best athletes of the world.”
Paris 2024 bid chief Tony Estanguet said this week’s meeting in Lima as cause for celebration.
“It’s been a great campaign, great project, a great team, so we’re here to conclude this campaign and to celebrate with LA, because we are not competitors, we are partners now and we will work together,” Estanguet said. “It’s unique for the IOC, it’s unique for Paris and it’s unique for LA, so let’s do it.”
However, the cloud hovering over what should be a triumphant week for Bach comes in the form of more corruption allegations which erupted last week and appeared to take the IOC by surprise.
Investigators in Brazil swooped on Brazilian Olympic Committee president Carlos Nuzman, who stands accused of plotting to bribe IOC members into awarding Rio de Janeiro the 2016 Games at a 2009 vote in Copenhagen.
Former IOC member Nuzman was taken in for questioning with his passport confiscated and a search of his house unearthing about US$150,000 in cash in various currencies.
Brazilian police later said they are probing “an international corruption scheme” aimed at “the buying of votes for the election of [Rio] by the International Olympic Committee as the venue for the 2016 Olympics.”
The charges swirling around Rio’s bid revive memories of the Salt Lake City bribery scandal, which led to 20 IOC members being either kicked out of the Olympics’ ruling body or pleading guilty to accepting bribes for votes.
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