By Ossian Shine
LONDON (Reuters) - An unprecedented joint awarding of back-to-back Summer Games would be "the right idea" for the Olympic movement, Los Angeles 2024 bid chief Casey Wasserman said on Thursday.
But Wasserman repeatedly refused to be drawn on whether LA would entertain a 2024-2028 double-deal with rival Paris, stating that such a move remained hypothetical.
International Olympic Committee members are due to select the host city for the 2024 Games later this year, but the process has been muddied by the creation of an IOC working group to study the possibility of making a double award for two editions.
Paris and LA are the only remaining cities left in the race to secure the 2024 Games, after a number of withdrawals from the process, including Boston, Hamburg, Rome and, most recently, Budapest.
Those cities dropped out in the face of public opposition to expected spiralling costs and concerns about the value of hosting Olympics.
Both LA and Paris have consistently said they are only interested in 2024, but Wasserman said the joint process made sense.
"It is the right idea for the movement irrespective of what city would get which because I think it would provide a great opportunity," the entertainment executive told a small group of reporters at his seventh floor offices in central London.
"I do believe LA provides a unique sense of calm and stability for seven years, but it is a hypothetical question. Here's the problem. There's a laundry list of things that make that (joint bid) hypothetical, interesting or uninteresting, depending on what's in that list. And so without knowing any of those things, neither city is able to answer that question."
While Wasserman's comment seemed to welcome the concept of a joint award, should the IOC choose that route, he was quick to underline LA’s credentials as first, and prime, host.
"Do you get to 11 (years of stability) if you screw up the (next) seven (years)? ... There are a lot of complicating factors… a lot of work that needs to be thought through… irrespective of the city.
"It is super complicated from just an operational day-to-day level."
The International Olympic Committee has not said when it will announce its decision on the potential double awarding, but the working group is due to report to the IOC at its executive board meeting in Lausanne in July, a few days before the 2024 bidders would make their last pitch to IOC members prior to September's vote in Lima.
The host city will be voted for by the hundred-plus eligible IOC members who attend the session.
While there remains confusion over the award process for these two Games, Wasserman provided one point of great clarity – if LA is left empty-handed after its bid, the city would not be bidding again.
"We won't bid again in Los Angeles. Because we have to pay for the bid privately. And raising 60 million dollars privately from individuals in Los Angeles is a tough road to go down once. I will tell you, twice it is not going to happen," said Wasserman, the biggest contributor to that $60 million budget.
Paris has said it is 2024 or nothing. In March their bid co-chairman Tony Estanguet told Reuters that the French capital was open to the idea of the hosts of both Games being decided at the same session, but that only 2024 was an option for the French capital. "This is the last chance to see Paris bidding for the Games. Afterwards, I think Paris and France will do different things."
While neither city is giving an inch, Wasserman hopes the certainty of LA’s bid will tick all the boxes.
"Think about what 1984 means in real terms," he said, referring to the last time the city hosted the Games. "1984 is recent enough history... and it was an incredible, magical experience in Los Angeles.
"That’s our proof point in LA, right? It is not unknown… it is very known and very much part of our history. Our mayor describe it very well, he says ‘1932 in the midst of the depression really put Los Angeles on the map as American city, 1984 put Los Angeles on the map as a global city, and I think 2024 establishes Los Angeles as one of the biggest two, three cities in the world'."
(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)