Wanted: Cities interested in hosting 2024 Olympics
By STEPHEN WILSON
LONDON (AP) -- Rejected time and again for the 2022 Winter Olympics, the IOC will soon be seeking suitors for the 2024 Summer Olympics.
It will be hoping to attract a competitive, high-profile field to show there are cities that want to host the games rather than shun them.
Even before Oslo became the fourth city to drop out of the race for the 2022 Games, the International Olympic Committee had started reviewing its bidding system to make it more appealing and less expensive for future host cities.
Making the process more flexible - allowing cities to tailor a bid to their own needs from the start rather than adhere to strict IOC requirements - is central to IOC President Thomas Bach's "Olympic Agenda 2020" reform package.
Recommendations are being finalized this week at an IOC executive board meeting in Montreux, Switzerland.
Potential bidders for 2024 are waiting to see exactly what changes are being made. The new rules will be put to a vote at a special IOC assembly in Monaco from Dec. 8-9.
Bids will need to be submitted next year. The host city will be chosen in 2017.
It will be a critical test for the IOC after the 2022 debacle, which has left Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan, as the only contenders following the withdrawals of Stockholm; Krakow, Poland; Lviv, Ukraine; and Oslo. Proposed bids from Munich and St. Moritz-Davos were rejected in referendums in Germany and Switzerland.
"There is strong interest (in 2024)," Bach said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. "We are getting more and more signals and questions about 2024 and what changes they can expect. You can already see there is a very positive attitude."
A look at some potential 2024 candidates:
RETURN TO THE USA?
The U.S. hasn't hosted the Summer Olympics since 1996 in Atlanta. New York failed in a bid for 2012, while Chicago was shot down by the IOC for 2016. Stung by those defeats, the U.S. Olympic Committee stayed out of the race for 2020. But 2024 could be the right time. Relations between the U.S. and IOC have improved since the two sides signed a new revenue-sharing agreement in 2012.
The USOC is weighing bids from four cities before deciding whether to submit a candidate to the IOC next year. Vying for the U.S. nomination are Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston and Washington. Los Angeles hosted the games in 1932 and 1984 and offers the easiest choice from the U.S., but does the world want to go back for a third time or go somewhere new?
Whatever happens, the U.S. would start as the favorite if it enters a bid.
2024 will mark 100 years since Paris hosted its last Olympics, so the timing and symbolism would be strong. France has a dubious record in recent Olympic bidding. Paris was the favorite for the 2012 Olympics but lost out to London. Annecy received only seven votes in the 2011 election for the 2018 Winter Games won by Pyeongchang, South Korea.
The French capital's commitment to the 2024 Games has been called into question by Prime Minister Manuel Valls' recent endorsement of a Paris candidacy for the 2025 World Expo. It might seem difficult to bid for two high-cost, logistically-challenging events, but French officials said they could do both. Meantime, they're awaiting the results of a feasibility study on whether to go for the games.
The Italian capital, which hosted the 1960 Olympics, lost out to Athens for the 2004 Games. Rome was a candidate for 2020 but pulled out after the Italian government declined to provide financial backing at the height of the economic crisis. Italian Olympic Committee head Giovanni Malago is due to meet Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino in coming weeks to discuss a possible bid.
With Italy back in recession, Premier Matteo Renzi will need to be on board. Compared to predecessor Mario Monti, who pulled the plug on the '20 bid, Renzi is a sports fan and often attends soccer matches.
GOLD FOR GERMANY?
Germany lasted hosted the Summer Olympics in Munich in 1972. Munich lost to Pyeongchang for the 2018 Winter Olympics, then abandoned plans to bid for the 2022 Winter Games after voters said "nein."
Berlin, which hosted the 1936 Games in Nazi Germany, and Hamburg have lodged their interest for 2024. The German Olympic Sports Confederation had been scheduled to decide in December on whether to submit a bid, but says it will now wait until next year after assessing the outcome of the IOC meeting in Monaco.
"The worst thing would be to decide on a city only for its citizens then not to support the project," DOSB president Alfons Hoermann said.
Istanbul has bid unsuccessfully for five of the last six Summer Olympics. A law in Turkey's parliament allows for the city to bid again and again. The anti-government demonstrations that swept the country in 2013 helped undermine the 2020 bid, won by Tokyo. Turkey's current volatile situation involving neighboring Syria, Kurdish fighters and Islamic State militants won't help a 2024 candidacy.
Doha was a candidate both for the 2016 and 2020 Olympics, but failed to make the list of finalists. Qatar won the right to host the 2022 World Cup and would like to add the Olympics to its portfolio. Just like for the World Cup, the dates will again be an issue. To avoid the searing heat of the summer months, the Olympics would have to be held outside the traditional July-August period.
AFRICA AT LAST?
Africa has yet to host the Olympics. Cape Town finished third in the 1997 vote for the 2004 Games. Durban is bidding for the 2022 Commonwealth Games and is mulling a possible candidacy for the '24 Olympics, though a `28 bid may be more likely.
Potential candidates for '24 or '28 could include Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Baku, Azerbaijan; Budapest, Hungary; St. Petersburg, Russia.