Ahead of key campaign speeches to Olympic sports leaders, bid teams from Los Angeles and Paris met Monday with an official audience that could yet sway the 2024 Summer Games hosting race.
The candidates were summoned to see a panel of International Olympic Committee vice presidents who have been asked to advise if both 2024 and 2028 Olympic hosting rights should be awarded this year.
Three of the four VPs met city delegations led by their mayors in separate sessions that formally began the panel’s work to deliver a report to IOC colleagues by July.
Many Olympic watchers think the panel’s findings will fulfill IOC President Thomas Bach’s repeated broad hints of avoiding having losers in a two-horse race of coveted cities _ each seeking a third Olympics they want sooner rather than four years later.
“We remain committed to bidding for the 2024 Games and look forward to future discussions with the IOC working group as the bid progresses,” the LA bid committee said in a statement.
The face-to-face meetings were a late addition on day one of a week-long conference of Olympic stakeholders. Held this year in western Denmark, it was long slated for the 2024 candidates to make basic 10-minute presentations to Summer Games sports bodies. Earlier Monday, Bach had played down expectations for the panel’s meetings.
“Don’t expect any kind of surprises,” said the IOC President, whose unexpected lament four months ago about “too many losers” in the bidding process upended strategy in this one.
Bach intervened again last month to add an extra layer to the 2024 race. He asked his four vice presidents _ Spain’s Juan Antonio Samaranch, Yu Zaiqing of China, Ugur Erdener of Turkey, and Australian John Coates, who did not attend in person Monday – to advise the IOC executive board which meets July 9-10.
Despite the tight timeline, Samaranch said there were no detailed talks Monday of a potential dual award on Sept. 13 when the full IOC membership is scheduled to elect a 2024 host.
“For the time being we are not quite there,” Samaranch said after a half-hour meeting with Paris officials.
Samaranch added that “we don’t have any expectation of any special meeting” with the cities before a four-day July gathering in Lausanne, Switzerland, when LA and Paris will give more detailed presentations to IOC members.
Still, Paris bid leader Tony Estanguet suggested his team was open to IOC attempts to find a consensus before July.
“We have to communicate and see exactly what is the way they want to go,” Estanguet, a three-time gold medalist in canoe slalom, told reporters at a briefing. “We want to find solutions. We are a good partner, but so far we are here to win `24.”
After mostly listening Monday, the two cities get their turn to talk on Tuesday.