By Peter Rutherford
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) – International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach left the door open to the possibility of naming Paris and Los Angeles as hosts of the next two Summer Games on Friday, saying no option was off the table as it reviews its bidding process.
Bach, speaking at the conclusion of the IOC Executive Board’s meeting in Pyeongchang, said it would explore all options to make the candidature procedure “more proactive, more collaborative and also less expensive in the future”.
The comments come in the wake of last month’s decision by Budapest to withdraw its bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, leaving just Los Angeles and Paris in the running for the IOC vote in September in Peru.
Rome, Hamburg, Boston and Budapest have all withdrawn from bidding for the 2024 summer Games while Oslo, Stockholm, Krakow and Ukraine’s Lviv pulled out during the race for the 2022 winter Games two years ago.
While some IOC members have expressed concern that confirming Paris and Los Angeles as the hosts of the next two Olympics carries financial and political risk, others feel it would give the IOC stability over a longer period of time.
Awarding the 2028 hosting rights in September this year would mean an 11-year wait for the Games.
Bach said all options had to be considered as the IOC explores changes to the procedures.
“Everything is on the table,” he said. “No option is off the table, this includes the 2024/28 procedure and vote.”
Bach said the Executive Board had agreed to set up a working group consisting of the four IOC vice presidents to explore potential changes and report back in July.
“After we have received this report… the IOC members will have the opportunity to discuss these recommendations in July this year when we have the meeting with the candidate cities,” he added.
While both Paris and Los Angeles have made it clear their priority is 2024, Bach said the IOC was in a good position to have two strong potential hosts in a time of global uncertainty.
“We have two excellent candidates from two major Olympic countries, two candidates who are embracing Olympic 2020 Agenda with great use of existing facilities, therefore very low investment budget, with a modern approach to the Games,” he added.
“This is the position you like to be in, and even more so if you look at the world at this moment. We can see a lot of instability, fragility, uncertainty… So we are in a comfortable situation.”
(Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)