GENEVA (AP) — As the IOC moves the goalposts in the 2024 Olympic contest, bid leaders from Los Angeles and Paris head to a campaign event in Denmark on Tuesday unsure of exactly what they are shooting for.
While both cities are bidding for the 2024 Games, the 2028 hosting rights are also in play, according to IOC President Thomas Bach.
LA and Paris will send 12-member delegations to lobby and make 10-minute presentations in Aarhus at a conference of global Olympic sports officials — the first of only three set-piece events ahead of the IOC's scheduled decision in September.
The audience will include some of the near 100-strong IOC membership who normally pick host cities.
The 2024 campaign is no longer normal.
When Bach lamented in December a bidding process that produced "too many losers," he sparked speculation of a mid-game rule change to allow awarding both the 2024 and 2028 Games, and so avoid letting a coveted potential host slip away.
Bach has only fueled the idea since, and last month said "all options are on the table" when he asked the four IOC vice presidents to examine change. They should report back in July, days before the next bid presentation event in the IOC's home city of Lausanne, Switzerland.
Los Angeles and Paris, and their armies of retained Olympic consultants, now have to include strategizing for which games to get in a contest that no longer seems winner-take-all.
"We can't accept '28," Paris bid co-chairman Tony Estanguet said in London two weeks ago. "It's not possible. Either the IOC family wants to choose Paris for '24 or we will not come back for '28."
LA bid chairman Casey Wasserman has taken a more cooperative public line, and published an article Friday titled: "An opportunity, not an ultimatum."
Still, Wasserman's message concluded: "LA's vision for 2024 is relevant now, and cannot wait until 2028."
Bach will be in Aarhus on Monday and see the bid city mayors — Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles and Anne Hidalgo of Paris — for a "routine meeting" with each, the IOC said in a statement.
It is unclear which of the four-man panel of IOC VPs will attend the week-long conference, or even seek out bid leaders. Bach has said they could decide how and when to consult the candidates.
Also in Aarhus will be the IOC member, Patrick Baumann of Switzerland, overseeing evaluation of how the cities' technical operating plans shape up.
Baumann chaired a two-day meeting in Lausanne last week, ahead of his team's three-day visits to the cities in May. As expected, he declared both "great cities" that "would deliver an excellent experience for athletes, spectators and other Games participants."
The IOC news release carrying Baumann's comments referred three times in the top four paragraphs to "Olympic Agenda 2020." The big idea of Bach's presidency, it is designed to cut costs of bidding and hosting an Olympics after a decade of budget overruns and huge-spending vanity projects.
The 2024 vote on Sept. 13 in Lima, Peru, is at the exact mid-point of Bach's eight-year first term and will help define it.
LA has pushed the idea that its privately funded project with no major construction needs — eliminating white elephants — better fits Bach's vision for safeguarding the Olympic future. Paris proposes some taxpayer spending in a 3 billion euro ($3.2 billion) budget for infrastructure, including an athletes village that bid leaders say is on a site that cannot wait four more years.
"This bid campaign isn't about whether a city is capable of hosting the Games? —? it's about which city is best suited to serve the future of the Olympic Movement," Wasserman wrote on Friday.
The candidates' rival visions — though perhaps not the IOC's — should be a little clearer by Tuesday evening.
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