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Los Angeles, Paris Bid For 2024 Olympics


There's a chance the Summer Olympics could come to United States for the first time this century. Los Angeles and Paris are competing for the 2024 Games. And on Friday, the International Olympic Committee's executive board is expected to make an unusual recommendation that could be a win for both cities. Ben Bergman of our member station KPCC has more.

BEN BERGMAN, BYLINE: 2024 became a two-city race after Rome, Hamburg and Budapest all dropped out of the running. Few governments want to risk the billions in cost overruns that have become synonymous with recent Olympics. That's why the IOC is considering awarding dual bids. Sports economist Ann Pegoraro says the IOC doesn't want to give up two strong bids now and risk having none for 2028.

ANN PEGORARO: I think, for them, they're looking at a bird in a hand. We have two cities that are super keen to host these games. And we need to make sure we lock them both up.

BERGMAN: Paris hasn't hosted the Olympics since 1924, making it a sentimental favorite. The city's leaders don't like the idea of waiting another four years, especially since they only have the financing to build their athlete's village for 2024. LA's bid uses existing facilities, making it far more flexible and cheaper. It won't need to build any new permanent venues. Plus LA Mayor Eric Garcetti says the IOC is willing to compensate LA for its patience.

ERIC GARCETTI: As we talked to the Olympics, they've asked us to think about both Paris and us. What would it take for us to consider one of us going first and the other going second?

BERGMAN: And Garcetti's answer?

GARCETTI: To bring youth sports for free to every zip code.

BERGMAN: Before any of this can happen, the full IOC membership has to approve tomorrow's executive board recommendation. To convince them, LA's bid has tried to evoke the nostalgia of its successful 1984 games, the last to turn a profit, while also trying to avoid the feeling of been there, done that. To that end, the CEO of LA's bid, Gene Sykes, says LA's slogan "Follow The Sun" is not about warm weather.

GENE SYKES: "Follow The Sun" is actually about looking at the future, focusing on what's next.

BERGMAN: LA's futuristic focus - reinvention, tech, youth - has served as a stark contrast to old-world Paris. Last month, members of the IOC toured potential venues in both cities. The chair of the evaluation commission, Patrick Baumann, said each bid was equally impressive.

PATRICK BAUMANN: It is clearly a win, win situation. And I think that we have two of the best possible cities that one can dream of being right now candidates for the Olympic Games.

BERGMAN: So how will they decide? Well, it's looking like they may not have to. For NPR News, I'm Ben Bergman in Los Angeles.

(SOUNDBITE OF J DILLA'S "JAY DEE 46") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ben Bergman