The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Friday proposed to elect the host cities for the 2024 and 2028 Games on the same day, with Paris and Los Angeles the candidates for the September ballot.
"The IOC Executive Board (EB) has today unanimously approved the recommendation to award the olympic Games 2024 and 2028 at the same time," IOC president Thomas Bach told a packed news conference at Lausanne's Olympic Museum.
Pending approval from all IOC members at an extraordinary IOC Session July 11 and 12, it would the first time in a century that two hosts are to be elected by an IOC Session on the same day, with Paris chosen as 1924 hosts and Amsterdam for 1928 on one day in June 1921.
The EB followed a recommendation of a working group, made up of the four IOC vice-presidents - John Coates of Australia, Turkey's Ugur Erdener, Juan Antonio Samaranch of Spain and China's Yu Zaiqing.
Paris and LA were the remaining 2024 candidates after Budapest, Rome, Hamburg and Boston withdrew, mainly for financial reasons.
The idea then emerged to have the two strong candidates as possible hosts for the next two Games.
Each city received plenty of praise during recent visits from an IOC evaluation commission ahead of the election set for September 13 at the IOC Session in Lima, Peru. The 2028 host would have normally been elected in 2021.
"It's a golden opportunity and a fascinating race to have Paris and LA striving for the right to host Olympic Games. It is hard to imagine anything better," Bach said.
Bach spoke of "two such great cities, great countries, and having two candidatures which are really enthusiastic and promoting the Olympic Games and the Olympic spirit in a great way."
Paris and LA have hosted the Games twice before, Paris in 1900 and 1924, LA in 1932 and 1984.
Both cities welcomed Friday decision.
"We welcome the IOC Executive Board's decision to recognize two excellent bids from two of the world's greatest cities," LA mayor Eric Garcetti and bid chief Casey Wasserman said, aiming "to offer the best path forward for our city and the Olympic Movement's future,"
The Paris team said: "We believe that the IOC is acting in the best interests of the Olympic Movement and the future of the Games in taking these steps."
Paris appears to prefer the 2024 edition while LA indicated over the past days it might be flexible and go for 2028, allegedly in return for IOC concessions.
But Bach said such discussions could only start once the IOC membership had approved the recommendation next month, although he strongly favours a good agreement between all parties.
"We want to create a win-win-win situation for two cities and the IOC," he said.
The vote at the regular IOC Session in Lima would also likely go ahead as planned, either with members voting on their preferred hosts on one ballot sheet, or by voting on a proposed preferred order decided in advance.
Bach said the vice-presidents would continue to look into what he named "a pretty complicated procedure."
But the IOC boss did not want to talk about concessions should LA agree to wait until 2028, after officials seemingly suggested funding of youth sports programmes in the Californian city.
"I don't think you need to reward somebody if you give somebody a present. For the city it would also be a safe bet. This city would get the right to host the Olympic Games without the risk of a defeat in an election procedure," he said.
But Bach also left the door open, saying: "We have to consider in the discussions how we may have to adapt one or another clause in the host city contract to this situation."
Having two very good hosts for 2024 and 2028, and not requiring new bids until for the 2032 Games - to be awarded in 2025 under the current timeline - "is also a very strong signal of stability for the Olympic movement and the Olympic Games," according to Bach.
It also gives the IOC several years to overhaul the bidding process which is considered too expensive and according to Bach produces too many losers.
The IOC will want to have more cities, especially from the western world, bid again. It has already made some moves to appease the critics, such as adding human rights to bid criteria and reducing costs and procedures through its Agenda 2020.
A first step in that direction was also taken Friday when the EB proposed revised bidding procedures for the 2026 Winter Games which will go before the July Session.
Bach said the IOC aims to be more proactive and support cities as soon as they plan to bid, halve the candidature period from two to one year, and wants to "customise the approach to the needs of cities."
By John Bagratuni
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