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IOC approves awarding 2024, 2028 Olympics to LA, Paris

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The IOC ratified a proposal to award both the 2024 and 2028 Olympics this summer, paving the way for Los Angeles and Paris to both host the Games.

Which city gets 2024 and which gets 2028 is to be decided after further negotiations among both cities and the IOC. LA and Paris both prefer 2024 over 2028.

“One of them would put their hand up for 2028 and that same city would vacate 2024,” IOC vice president John Coates said.

If an agreement can’t be reached, only the normal 2024 Olympic vote will happen in September between LA and Paris, the two remaining 2024 finalists.

The last time two Olympic hosts were determined at once was in 1921, when the 1924 Paris and 1928 Amsterdam Games were awarded, according to Olympstats.com.

The IOC deemed the LA and Paris bids for 2024 so strong that it wanted to grant an Olympics to each city.

“This is a golden opportunity,” IOC president Thomas Bach said of the rare double-awarding proposal by the IOC executive board before it was ratified in Lausanne, Switzerland. “It’s hard to imagine something better.”

VIDEO: Kobe Bryant closes LA 2024 bid presentation

The U.S. would host its first Olympics since 2002 (and first Summer Games since 1996). Paris would host for the first time since 1924.

The U.S. would end its longest drought between hosting an Olympics since the 28-year gap between 1932 and 1960. It failed in bids for 2012 (New York City) and 2016 (Chicago).

Paris, a finalist for 1992, 2008 and 2012, is reported by many as the frontrunner for the 2024 Olympics, which would be on the 100th anniversary of its last time hosting.

A Paris bid leader has gone so far as to issue an ultimatum, repeatedly, earlier this year that it would not accept the 2028 Olympics. LA 2024 leaders have not closed the door on accepting 2028.

“From the beginning, we approached this bid in a manner that is different from our competitors,” LA 2024 bid chairman Casey Wasserman said in a presentation to IOC members before Tuesday’s vote. “We’ve never given you an ultimatum about 2024. We don’t believe in ultimatums.”

Whoever gets the 2024 and 2028 Games, this much is clear: LA and Paris would join London as the only cities to host the Olympics three times.

LA and Paris were the remaining 2024 finalists after Boston, Hamburg, Rome and Budapest dropped out.

MORE: Rose Bowl, Staples Center among LA Olympic venues

Changing political climates in France and the U.S. were also a part of this Olympic bid race.

New French President Emmanuel Macron is in Lausanne for this week’s IOC session. U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted his support Tuesday for an LA Olympic bid.

“The Olympic Games, as we all know, are not and have never been immune to geopolitics,” USOC chairman Larry Probst told his fellow IOC members during LA 2024’s presentation Tuesday morning. “As IOC members, we strive to separate politics and sport in our decisions. I know this is difficult, especially today. It is difficult for me as well. It is our duty to do our best.”

The LA 2024 bid presentation team included Olympic champions Janet Evans, Allyson Felix, Michael Johnson and Angela Ruggiero, who is an IOC member.

Kobe Bryant starred in the team’s last prerecorded video shown to IOC members to close its 50-minute presentation.

“To have the Olympics here and to have so many different cultures represented would be a beautiful story to tell,” Bryant said.

The video faded behind the LA 2024 slogan, “Follow the Sun,” amid applause from IOC members. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and Wasserman then exchanged fist pounds at the podium.

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USOC supports athletes expressing themselves after anthem protests

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PARK CITY, Utah — The U.S. Olympic Committee supports American athletes expressing themselves at winter sports events leading up to the PyeongChang Olympics.

Some MLB, NFL and WNBA players kneeled and remained in locker rooms during the national anthem at games over the weekend.

USOC CEO Scott Blackmun was asked Monday if the USOC would support American athletes peacefully protesting during the national anthem this fall and winter at pre-Games competition.

“I think the athletes that you see protesting are protesting because they love their country, not because they don’t,” Blackmun said at a pre-Winter Games media summit. “We fully support the right of our athletes and everybody else to express themselves. The Olympic Games themselves, there is a prohibition on all forms of demonstrations, political or otherwise. And that applies no matter what side of the issue you’re taking, no matter where you’re from. … But we certainly recognize the importance of athletes being able to express themselves.”

Blackmun was correct to reference the Olympic Charter, which states that “no kind of demonstration … is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”

Blackmun mentioned Tommie Smith and John Carlos‘ raised-fist salute at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, which got them kicked out of the Games by the IOC.

The USOC has honored Smith and Carlos. They visited the White House last year with the Rio Olympic team.

“That was a seminal moment not only for the Olympic Movement, but for the U.S. Olympic team,” Blackmun said of the 1968 podium gesture. “Our stance on this has been fairly clear. We certainly recognize the rights of the athletes to express themselves.”

Olympic hopefuls were peppered with questions about possible protests at the media summit.

“One of the proudest parts of being an American is the ability to have freedom of speech,” four-time Olympian Julia Mancuso said. “I really look up to athletes who take a stand for what they believe in. I really believe as athletes that compete for Team USA, when it comes to the Olympics, I like to think it’s a special event. Not like the NFL or pro sports teams that compete every weekend. For us, it’s every four years. I’m proud for athletes that stand up for what they believe in if they really want to have a message to get out. But I like to think of us all as patriotic.”

Elana Meyers Taylor, a two-time Olympic bobsled medalist, is the daughter of a U.S. Marine who served in Kuwait and spent summers in the 1980s playing at Atlanta Falcons training camps.

She said any decisions on demonstrations or whether she attends a post-Olympics Team USA White House visit come secondary to her pursuit of making the Olympic team this winter.

“I can’t afford to focus on what I would do in that situation or how I would react,” Meyers Taylor said, adding that anything would be a “game-time decision.” “Maybe the social climate changes a little bit [before the Olympics]. … There’s a lot to consider.”

Aja Evans, a 2014 Olympic bobsled bronze medalist, the sister of former NFL defensive tackle Fred Evans, did not say that she would follow the football players’ lead.

“I honor and commend anyone that does that,” Evans said. “My way of showing my stance is to continue to try to be a positive influence for my city, for my country. I’m representing Team USA the best way I can.”

NCAA hockey players Troy Terry and Jordan Greenway, both prospective Olympians with the NHL not participating, said they didn’t envision taking a knee during the “Star-Spangled Banner.”

“I’ve always stood for the national anthem,” Greenway said. “I always will.”

Olympic freestyle skiing medalists Maddie Bowman and Gus Kenworthy have said they plan to skip the traditional Team USA post-Olympic White House visit due to the current presidential administration.

Kenworthy repeated that stance on Monday. He said he was shocked that President Donald Trump believed that athletes kneeling during the national anthem disrespected the flag.

“Those people [servicemen and women] are fighting for the freedom to express their beliefs,” Kenworthy said. “I feel proud to be from a country where we have the right to be able to kind of say what we feel, speak up for what we believe in. I feel that people kneeling before a game is actually quite admirable.”

Kenworthy didn’t rule out a personal demonstration at the Olympics, should he qualify again, but knows he could be stripped of a medal for doing so.

“I’m not saying that I would want to be dictated by fear, and if I was to get a medal and be too scared that it would be taken away from me,” he said. “I think that there’s a way to do things in a way that’s not going to sabotage yourself. You can stand up for something and not throw yourself under the bus.”

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U.S. Olympic men’s hockey player from 2006 has shot at PyeongChang

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PARK CITY, Utah — Though no active NHL players will be in PyeongChang, veteran NHL forward and free agent Brian Gionta could very well play for his second U.S. Olympic team in February.

A USA Hockey official confirmed Monday that the 2006 Olympian Gionta “has a very decent opportunity” to be part of the 2018 Olympic team.

That came in response to a Buffalo radio report that Gionta said it’s looking good for him to play for Team USA.

Gionta, 38, played 15 NHL seasons through last year but is currently unsigned as the NHL preseason continues. The U.S. Olympic team of 25 players named around Jan. 1 is likely to include very few, if any, players with Gionta’s experience.

Gionta was seen at the Rochester (N.Y.) AHL club’s practice Monday (but not taking part), according to media in that area. Gionta could play for an AHL club and be eligible for PyeongChang. USA Hockey wants prospective Olympians to be active in the AHL, NCAA or a European league.

Gionta’s agent has not responded to a request for comment on his Olympic prospects on Monday. Earlier in the summer, Gionta’s agent said that the skater was considering the Olympics.

Gionta led the 2006 U.S. Olympic team with four goals. The Americans lost in the quarterfinals to Finland, their worst Olympic result over the last four Winter Games.

That came during Gionta’s most productive NHL season — 48 goals (sixth in the league) and 41 assists for the New Jersey Devils.

Another Olympian — Ryan Malone from 2010 — embarked on a comeback this preseason and could pursue the Olympics. He has been in camp with the Minnesota Wild. If he doesn’t make the Wild, Malone could play on an AHL contract and be eligible for the Olympics.

USA Hockey confirmed that other players in the potential Olympic pool — at some 100 players at the moment — include Nathan Gerbe. Gerbe, a 30-year-old forward, played 394 NHL games between the Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes from 2008-16 before joining the Swiss League.

Another is goalie Ryan Zapolski, who ranks third in the KHL in goals-against average this season.

John-Michael Liles, a 2006 Olympic defenseman and unsigned NHL veteran, is not interested in continuing his career in a non-NHL league to be considered for the Olympics, USA Hockey said.

U.S. general manager Jim Johannson said this summer that he was interested in some players who “have a rich history in the NHL and with USA Hockey that we think could potentially really help this roster.” Johannson wouldn’t name names then.

Johansson said a “long list” of potential players for the final 25-man roster must be submitted in September.

A U.S. team of primarily European-based players will take part in a tournament in November in Germany. That roster is expected to be named in October.

The U.S. staff will also look at NCAA and AHL players ahead of naming the PyeongChang team.

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