POSTED: March 29th 2017

NEIL WILSON: Olympics need Los Angeles in 2024

IOC President Thomas Bach is looking to push his plan for allocations at the upcoming SportAccord meeting in Aarhus April 2-7 © IOC
IOC President Thomas Bach is looking to push his plan for allocations at the upcoming SportAccord meeting in Aarhus April 2-7 © IOC

THE NEIL WILSON COLUMN / An exclusive, authoritative series from Sports Features Communications

(SFC) First let me declare an interest. Paris, one of two cities bidding for the 2024 Olympic Games, is a lot closer to my home than Los Angeles, the other.

Indeed, it is driveable, a journey I make often enough because my son and his family live where my two grandchildren were born and where they enjoy French nationality.

I love Paris for its architecture, its ambiance, its food and its culture, and I forgive it for the surliness of its taxi drivers.  It is a true city, not like Los Angeles which is a string of shopping malls.

That interest of potential bias declared, it is to Los Angeles to which I believe - and have believed since the bidding for 2024 began - the International Olympic Committee should award the hosting of the Games of the XXX111 Olympiad.

In this space in August, 2014 I argued that the IOC owed LA a debt for reinvigorating bidding for the Games by its success in 1984. But now, in truth, it is not the debt it owes that matters buts it need for LA to send out the same reminder again.

My fellow columnist, John Goodbody, argued here last week that if the two-Games solution is to be the IOC's choice it should be Paris that has first crack in 2024 for one practical reason. Paris need it that year because the area it intends to use for its Athletes Village in the commune of St Denis will not be available beyond 2024.

Its plan there is that construction will transform this working class district to the north of the city with desperately needed housing. It is a legacy argument similar to that which London espoused to defeat Paris's last bid for the 2012 Olympics.

Times have moved on. Agenda 2020, IOC president Thomas Bach's manifesto for change, charges bidding cities with limiting costs by using existing facilities. Why not in Paris university accommodation, as LA plans?

The campuses of the University of Paris in the Latin Quarter and the neighbouring Descartes could surely be converted for use during their summer recess in 2028. The housing problem is not insurmountable if Paris truly wants the Games.

Its other argument that 2024 would mark the 100th anniversary of the last Paris Olympics - the famous Chariots of Fire occasion - is weaker still. The IOC is not renowned for respecting such milestones. Remember how it declined to award Athens the Games in 1996 for the more significant anniversary of the first modern Games.

No, this time the IOC must think only of what is best for the Movement, and that means setting the cost bar lower and reminding the world's great cities pondering future bids that private enterprise using existing facilities for the sports and the accommodation is the way forward.

** NEIL WILSON reported his first Olympic Games in Munich in 1972. He has since covered another nine summer and nine winter Olympics for various newspapers, including The Independent and the Daily Mail with whom he has worked for the last 19 years as Athletics and Olympic correspondent. He was Britain's Sports Journalist of the Year in 1984 and is the author of seven books.

****The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sports Features Communications.

Keywords · Olympics · Neil Wilson

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