June 09, 2017

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) The International Olympic Committee has formally proposed picking the 2024 and 2028 Olympic host cities at the same time this year.

Los Angeles and Paris now seem certain to both be awarded a Summer Games in September as the IOC tries to safeguard its signature event for the next decade.

''This represents a golden opportunity for the Olympic Games and for the IOC,'' IOC President Thomas Bach said at a news conference Friday after an executive board meeting.

The widely expected proposal from the board did not address which city will go first and stage the 2024 Olympics.

A meeting of the full IOC from July 11-12 in Lausanne will be asked to ratify the board's request. The 95-strong membership seems unlikely to block a policy that could help define Bach's eight-year first presidential term at its midpoint.

A final vote to confirm the hosting order should take place on Sept. 13 in Lima, Peru, at the regularly scheduled IOC annual meeting.

Paris and LA bid leaders both issued statements welcoming the IOC board decision, and could yet agree how to split the games in the coming weeks.

Bach said there had been talks but not negotiations with officials from Los Angeles and Paris, which he described as ''two such great cities, two such great countries, having two candidatures who are really enthusiastic.''

Paris has emerged as the favorite for 2024, and bid leaders insist they can focus only on that option. Public comments from LA bid leaders have been more flexible and acknowledged talks to explore who could be persuaded to accept 2028.

Comments by LA Mayor Eric Garcetti last week were interpreted as suggesting that his city could look for IOC support for youth sports programs if it agreed to wait four more years to host.

Bach, however, said Friday there should be no inducements to take the 2028 option.

''I don't think you need to reward somebody if you give somebody a present,'' the IOC leader said. ''This would put the (2028) city on an equal basis with the 2024 city.

''This city would get the right to host the Olympic Games without the risk of a defeat in an election procedure,'' Bach said.

Bach has driven the 2024-2028 idea since December, though asked his four vice presidents to explore and draft a proposal for Friday's meeting.

France's new President Emmanuel Macron has said he will come to the Olympic capital on July 11 and support the Paris lobbying effort. Both cities will present their projects to the IOC members that day.

Choosing both cities can give the Olympics clarity and stability after more than a decade of excessive spending and cost-overruns by Olympic host cities. That has fueled local residents to sink potential bids in wealthy European countries and the United States.

The image problem for Olympic bidding and hosting was partly created by Russia spending a reported $51 billion on projects linked to the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

Also Friday, ways to improve the upcoming 2026 Winter Games bidding and cut costs were discussed. Potential bidders include Swiss town Sion and previous hosts Calgary, Canada, and Innsbruck, Austria.

Bach said the IOC would be more pro-active and helpful with cities considering a bid.

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