Usually when people say both sides came out winners it’s really just a gesture of sympathy to the side that played well but still ultimately lost.
On Tuesday, however, the cities of Los Angeles and Paris actually did both come out winners in their bids to be named hosts for upcoming Summer Olympic Games.
Rather than pick one city for the 2024 Games and leave the other disappointed and frustrated, the International Olympic Committee empowered itself to simultaneously award both the 2024 and 2028 games to both cities.
They’ll figure which city will host which Olympics by the time the official announcement is made in September.
“One of them would put up their hand for 2028 and that same city would vacate 2024,” IOC vice president John Coates said of the unusual arrangement.
Typically, the IOC has only announced the winning bid for the Olympiad following the next one on the calendar which is Tokyo 2020.
Tokyo was awarded the Games of the XXXII Olympiad on Sept. 7, 2013. The IOC likes to give the host city a seven-year window to prepare for the largest athletic competition in the world.
The only other time successive games were awarded simultaneously was in 1921 when the 1924 Games were award to Paris and the 1928 Games to Amsterdam.
While the games are a big financial risk for the city and country that host them, becoming an “Olympic city” is a huge historic honor that holds a lot of international prestige.
Paris, which last hosted a Summer Olympics in 1924, was in fierce competition for the rights to the 2024 Games with Los Angeles, which last had the Summer Games in 1984.
France has unsuccessfully bid to host either a Summer or Winter Olympics five times over the past two decades.
The United States hosted the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games, but has failed in three attempts to get a Summer Games since 2005.
The USA last hosted a Summer Games in Atlanta 1996.
Both nations are financially secure enough and have the infrastructure in place to host an Olympics without blowing up their economy like Greece with the 2004 Athens Games and Brazil with the 2016 Rio Games.
“This is a golden opportunity,” IOC president Thomas Bach said of the proposal that was passed unanimously by the executive board. “It’s hard to imagine something better.”
It was easy to imagine something worse. There are always geopolitical influences in awarding Olympics, but there is also an ever-present financial debate.
With most nations unable to host Olympics because of the overwhelming costs, the IOC had to fear that another disappointment to France or the United States might keep them out of the bidding for future Games – an expensive process in itself.
Between the Summer and Winter Games, the United States has hosted a total of eight, with France coming in second with five.
The dual award of the 2024 and 2028 Games to both cities ensures the neither will have to make the tough decision of putting together another organizing committee and bid presentation for the 2024 Games.
The only issue now is for the Paris and Los Angeles committees and the IOC to come to an agreement on which city gets which games. Nothing involving Olympic bidding is ever simple, but this decision doesn’t seem as if it will be much of a problem.
While Paris has been tied to the romantic notion of hosting 2024 – 100 years after its last Summer Games, Los Angeles has not been as zeroed in.
“From the beginning, we approached this bid in a manner different from our competitors,” LA 2024 chairman Casey Wasserman said to the IOC members before they voted. “We’ve never given you an ultimatum about 2024. We don’t believe in ultimatums.”
If an agreement is reached, Paris and Los Angeles will join London as three-time hosts of the Summer Games.
Regardless of whether it is the 2024 or 2028 Games, the United States has had a huge year on the international sports stage.
In May, FIFA all but awarded the 2026 Men’s World Cup to the United States in a joint bid with CONCACAF members Canada and Mexico.
With Europe and Asia unable to bid for 2026 because their federations, respectively, have the 2018 Cup in Russia and 2022 in Qatar, Colombia and Morocco are the only nations that have expressed serious interest in playing host for 2026.
Neither is expected to be able to put together an equitable bid as the CONCACAF trio, especially since FIFA has set the bidding deadline for Aug. 11.
That would mean during a two-year period during the 2020s, history will repeat itself as the United States will play host to the world for both a Summer Olympic Games and a World Cup.
In 1994, the United States hosted the World Cup and set a record for total attendance that still stands even though the number of games has increased.
In 1996, the Summer Olympics in Atlanta were marred by the tragic bombing in Centennial Park and criticized for their commercialization, but still turned a profit, unlike most Games.
The Olympics and the World Cup are the biggest spectacles in international sports, and in the middle of the 2020s, the United States will again get the opportunity to show the world that it knows how to put on a show.