Olympics: Paris, LA salute 'the right answer'

Paris and LA representatives pose for a selfie with IOC president Thomas Bach (centre) in Lima. PHOTO: REUTERS

LIMA (AFP) - Paris and Los Angeles officials saluted a victory for the Olympic movement on Wednesday (Sept 13) after both cities were handed the hosting rights for the 2024 and 2028 Games in a historic double award.

Paris 2024 bid co-leader Tony Estanguet was overcome with delight just moments after International Olympic Committee members unanimously approved a joint award that had been agreed in July.

"It's a magical, unique victory," Estanguet told reporters. "I'm feeling an emotion I have felt only rarely in my life."

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo spoke of her joy in bringing the Games back to the French capital - exactly 100 years after they last hosted the Olympics in 1924 - and said the IOC was a winner too.

"We are three winners, two great cities," Hidalgo said. "Today, with Tony and all our team, we are very proud and happy. It's such a special emotion today. 100 years after, the Games come back to Paris. When Paris wins, France wins."

French President Emmanuel Macron hailed the decision to award Paris 2024 as a "victory for France", calling for the "whole country" to get behind the Games.

IOC President Thomas Bach said the awarding of two host cities at once was "a historic and happy day for the Olympic movement".

"It really is the win-win-win we were looking for. I couldn't be more happy than I am right now," the German said.


Los Angeles 2028 officials, who had agreed to step aside in the race for 2024 in exchange for a package of financial sweeteners, said the IOC's willingness to award two hosts simultaneously had been a game-changer.

"We cracked the code when the committee changed the formula," Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti told AFP.

"Talking to folks who said it used to be about one corner of the room celebrating and the rest crying. There was a real feeling of solidarity, co-operation and happiness today which I think is what this movement is supposed to be about. For my city I couldn't be happier."

Garcetti, a friend of Paris counterpart Hidalgo, said the two cities had enjoyed close ties for decades.

"This was the right answer, it was about fraternity, it was about friendship, it was about finding a win-win. The terms were too good to say no to," he said.

"For me this is truly a day of real emotion. What does history feel like? It feels like this."

Los Angeles 2028 bid chairman Casey Wasserman described the final confirmation as "thrilling, emotional, nerve-wracking and exciting."

"There wasn't a whole lot of suspense but it was a very special day," Wasserman told AFP.

For the Paris team, landing the Games was a sweet moment to savour after bitter failures to host in 1992, 2008 and 2012.

Former French sprinter Marie-Jose Perec, a triple Olympic champion who was in Lima for the announcement, said Paris had won "much more than a gold medal".

"We fought so hard in the other bids so it was really emotional in the room when our bid got through," Perec said.

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