LONDON (AP) With Toronto deciding against a last-minute bid, five cities are set to be in contention for the 2024 Olympics when the race opens officially on Wednesday, pitting four European cities against a two-time host from the United States.
The International Olympic Committee's final deadline for submission of bids comes at midnight Tuesday in Switzerland, setting the stage for a two-year campaign that features bids from three former Olympic host cities - Los Angeles, Paris and Rome.
Barring any late entry by the Azerbaijan capital of Baku, which appears unlikely, IOC President Thomas Bach will officially announce a five-city field rounded out by Hamburg, Germany, and Budapest.
All five cities have sent in letters to the IOC declaring their bid applications. On Wednesday, the IOC will release the host city contract and other documents setting out the bid process, which has been changed to eliminate the cut-down phase and ensure that all candidates go to the final vote in Lima, Peru, in September 2017.
The IOC has been determined to present a healthy number of bids and a strong field for 2024 following the troubled race for the 2022 Winter Games, which was left with only two candidates after four pulled out for financial or political reasons. Beijing defeated Almaty, Kazakhstan, in the IOC vote in July.
Los Angeles, which hosted the 1932 and 1984 Olympics, and Paris, which staged the games in 1900 and 1924, shape up as early front-runners.
Los Angeles stepped in as the U.S. candidate after Boston's bid collapsed in July amid a lack of public and political support. The Californian city is bidding to bring the Summer Games back to the U.S. for the first time since Atlanta held the 1996 Olympics.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Olympic Committee released the letter sent from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to the IOC earlier this month.
The letter, along with a recently released video, stressed the city's diversity - pitching Los Angeles as ''the western capital of the United States, the northern capital of Latin America and the eastern capital of the Pacific Rim.''
It also said the bid enjoys the full support of state and regional leaders - something significantly missing from Boston's aborted bid.
Paris is hoping to host the Olympics a century after it last held the games. The French capital, which was a favorite in the race for the 2012 Games but lost out to London, has secured strong support from the national and local government and is presenting an athlete-centered bid.
''The favorite?'' Etienne Thobois, chief executive of the Paris bid, said Tuesday. ''I've heard that before. This is the last thing you want to care about right now. There is a lot of work ahead of us.''
Rome seeks to take the games back to the Italian capital for the first time since 1960.
Hamburg's bid faces a referendum among city voters on Nov. 29, with no certainty that it will win.
Toronto had seemed intent on entering the race after hosting the successful Pan American Games this summer, but cooled on the idea amid questions about the cost of the project.
Mayor John Tory said Tuesday he felt it wasn't the best use of the city's time and money right now and said ''nobody was rushing forward with their checkbooks.'' Canada said it would consider future bids for the Olympics.
''We realize that time was too short for such a detailed project to get the necessary support in just a few weeks following the successful Pan Am Games,'' IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. ''The International Olympic Committee highly appreciates what Toronto has done as it continues to work on a future candidacy.''
Baku, which hosted the inaugural European Games in June, had also mulled a run for the Olympics. But no bid had come forward by Tuesday and Olympic officials said they expected Baku to aim for a bid for the 2028 Games instead.
AP Sports Writers Jerome Pugmire in Paris and Eddie Pells in Denver and Associated Press writer Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed.