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Opinion: IOC Should Award Olympics to L.A., then Paris

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USA TODAY

 

It's an Olympic battle for the ages: Los Angeles? Or Paris?

Who's going to host the 2024 Summer Olympic Games? There are seven years, three Olympic Games and two New Hampshire primaries between now and then, but the decision itself is just around the corner, now four months away.

L.A.-Paris is Ali-Frazier. It's Evert-Navratilova. It's Yankees-Red Sox. It's also Trump-Macron.

Uh-oh.

But we digress. This week, the International Olympic Committee's evaluation commission is visiting Los Angeles and Paris to try to decide which city will be a better host for the 2024 Games. Anyone who knows anything about Olympic history or even just a little bit about the world in general is totally prepared to answer that question and save the IOC and the two cities hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars:

They both will.

So give L.A. 2024 and Paris 2028. Or, if you must, Paris 2024 and L.A. 2028. Do it, be done with it and let everyone spend all the money they're throwing away trying to impress the IOC's faux royalty on something that's actually important, like children's education or after-school sports programs.

The IOC vote to pick the 2024 Olympic site will be held Sept. 13 in Lima, Peru. There is increasingly intelligent conversation, led by beleaguered IOC President Thomas Bach, centering on the notion of throwing convention out the window and selecting the hosts of the next two Games right then and there.

Bach has his reasons. At a time when cities around the world would rather pass on hosting the Games than take on the problems and overwhelming financial demands that ensnared Rio, Sochi and Athens, among others, how can the IOC afford to say no to Los Angeles or Paris?

Then again, we're talking about the IOC, the oldest of the old-boy networks, the most self-absorbed, often-ridiculous collection of entitled characters you'll find in sports. Having covered the Olympic world since the 1980s, I can absolutely see them picking Paris and telling L.A. to go pound sand. Or vice versa.

Always remember the single most important piece of information you'll need when reading the letters "IOC":

The last amateurs left in the Olympic world are the people running it.

So no matter how smart it is to select them both, let's say the IOC picks just one of these international giants in September. Both have hosted the Olympic Games twice before: L.A. in 1932 and 1984; Paris in 1900 and 1924.

So, who wins? After last weekend's presidential election, Paris has to like its odds. Emmanuel Macron is expected to meet with the IOC commission when it arrives in Paris over the weekend. Just guessing, there could be a gold medal given out for swooning over the 39-year-old president-elect by the end of the visit. Tony Blair spent several days wooing IOC members before the vote for the 2012 Games, and it worked. London won. Vladimir Putin did the same before the vote for the 2014 Olympics, which went to Sochi.

Barack Obama and Chicago's 2016 bid weren't so lucky. In 2009, Obama flew overnight to Copenhagen, site of the IOC voting, for a quick drop-in to try to win those Games for his adopted hometown, but even at the height of his popularity, IOC members whined that they had to get up early and go through extra security because of his visit. Chicago was eliminated in the first round.

So it should come as no surprise that L.A. organizers don't want Donald Trump anywhere near South America when the voting takes place. (They wouldn't have wanted Hillary Clinton there either, citing what happened when Obama showed up.)

However, it's likely Paris' bid leaders will happily trot out Macron in Peru, presuming nothing happens to lessen his popularity.

So how does L.A. answer? It admirably has presented the most diverse and inclusive face of any U.S. Olympic bid in history, and one of the best bids the world has ever seen, so it should continue to do just that. Counter Macron with young American political leaders. Go bipartisan: people like U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and freshman Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., standing alongside Mayor Eric Garcetti, already one of the bid's strongest voices.

Throw in some movie stars and U.S. Olympic stalwarts, then cross your fingers.

If it doesn't work for 2024, there's always 2028.

At least there should be.

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May 11, 2017
 
 
 

 

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