IOC under graft cloud amid Paris, LA unveiling

LIMA • The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was set to confirm Paris and Los Angeles as the host cities of the 2024 and 2028 Olympics early this morning (Singapore time), crowning two cities at the same time in a historic first for the embattled sports body.

After a week that has seen the IOC forced on the defensive over mounting corruption allegations, the Olympic movement will bask in some good news as the two cities celebrate their respective awards.

Both will go through the formalities of outlining their bids in 25-minute presentations to the IOC membership at the Lima Convention Centre in Peru.

The IOC will then vote to ratify the deal, bringing to an end a mostly amicable campaign that has been stripped of the usual drama and intrigue since Paris and Los Angeles agreed to split the 2024 and 2028 Olympics in July.

"It's a big win and we are here to really enjoy it," said Paris 2024 bid co-chief Tony Estanguet, reflecting the triumphant mood among the 60-strong French delegation.

Los Angeles officials insisted they are more than satisfied with the outcome, rejecting suggestions that their failure to win the 2024 Games represented a defeat.

The Californian metropolis will receive roughly US$100 million (S$134 million) more than Paris 2024 in IOC funding for 2028, and will also benefit from a US$180 million interest-free advance which means the city can begin to create a sporting legacy well before the Games take place in 11 years' time.

Thomas Bach, the IOC president and the driving force behind the double award, described the candidacies as a "golden opportunity".

"For the IOC, it would have been a huge mistake not to seize this golden opportunity," said Bach.

Paris and Los Angeles emerged from the initial bidding race for the 2024 Games after a number of cities withdrew, citing waning support and concerns over budgets.

Hamburg, Rome, Budapest and Boston all fell by the wayside during the competition, reflecting the political difficulties in persuading voters that staging the Olympics is worth the multi-billion dollar cost.

Bach first signalled that the double award of the Games could be on the agenda in December last year, lamenting that the bidding process produced "too many losers".

In July, the IOC announced it would award the staging rights for the 2024 and 2028 Olympics at the same meeting in Lima, laying the way for a swift agreement between the two over the running order.

The drama-free conclusion also ends the risk of the vote being tainted by scandals that have blighted previous ballots.

The IOC was left tackling a fresh wave of graft allegations last week when investigators in Brazil raided the home of the country's Olympics chief, Carlos Nuzman, who stands accused of plotting to bribe IOC members into awarding Rio de Janeiro the 2016 Games at a 2009 vote in Copenhagen.

French investigators meanwhile have already announced they are investigating the 2013 vote in Buenos Aires which awarded the 2020 Olympics to Tokyo, following reports of secret payments into a Singapore-based bank account linked to the son of disgraced former world athletics chief Lamine Diack.

The latest case forced Bach to defend the IOC during a press conference this week in which he was repeatedly asked about his handling of the affair.

"No organisation in the world is immune. We feel we have done what we can do," he said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2017, with the headline 'IOC under graft cloud amid Paris, LA unveiling'. Print Edition | Subscribe