Los Angeles agrees to host 2028 Olympics after Paris in 2024

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles reached an agreement Monday with international Olympic leaders that will open the way for the city to host the 2028 Summer Games, while ceding the 2024 Games to rival Paris.

The deal would make LA a three-time Olympic city, after hosting the 1932 and 1984 Games.

With the agreement, the city is taking “a major step toward bringing the Games back to our city for the first time in a generation,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement.

He called it a “historic day for Los Angeles, for the United States” and the Olympic movement.

The agreement follows a vote earlier this month by the International Olympic Committee to seek an unusual deal to award the 2024 and 2028 Games simultaneously. Paris is the only city left to host the 2024 Games.

The Los Angeles City Council and U.S. Olympic Committee board of directors will consider the agreement for approval in August. If approved, the IOC, LA and Paris may enter a three-part agreement, clearing the way for the IOC to simultaneously award the 2024 Games to Paris, and the 2028 Games to LA. The IOC vote is scheduled for September, in Lima, Peru.

In a statement, the Paris bid committee welcomed the announcement in Los Angeles but stopped short of confirming the obvious, that Paris is in line for the 2024 Games.

“Paris 2024 is proud to be working together with the IOC and our friends in Los Angeles to reach a positive solution for both cities, the Games and the whole Olympic Movement for 2024 and 2028,” committee co-chair Tony Estanguet said.

MORE: LA’s ties to the Olympics

In embracing what amounted to the second-place prize and an 11-year wait, LA will receive a financial sweetener.

Under the terms of the deal, the IOC will advance funds to the Los Angeles organizing committee to recognize the extended planning period and to increase youth sports programs leading up to the Games. The IOC contribution could exceed $2 billion, according to LA officials. That figure takes into account the estimated value of existing sponsor agreements that would be renewed, as well as potential new marketing deals.

The delay to 2028 opens a host of questions for Los Angeles, which is looking at the prospect of retooling its multibillion-dollar plans for more than a decade into the future. It would face challenges from maintaining public interest to recasting deals for stadiums, arenas and housing that have been in the works for months and even years.

LA and Paris were the last two bids remaining after a tumultuous process that exposed the unwillingness of cities to bear the financial burden of hosting an event that has become synonymous with cost overruns.

LA was not even the first American entrant in the contest. Boston withdrew two years ago as public support for its bid collapsed over concerns about use of taxpayer cash. The U.S. bid switched from the east to the West Coast as LA re-entered the race.

But the same apprehensions that spooked politicians and the local population in Boston soon became evident in Europe where three cities pulled out.

Uncomfortably for IOC President Thomas Bach, whose much-vaunted Agenda 2020 reforms were designed to make hosting more streamlined and less costly after the lavish 2014 Sochi Games, the first withdrawal came from his homeland of Germany.

TIMELINE: L.A.’s path to becoming Olympic host again

The lack of political unity for a bid in Hamburg was mirrored in Rome and Budapest as support for bids waned among local authorities and the population. It was clear they did not want to be saddled with skyrocketing bills for hosting the Olympics without reaping many of the economic benefits anticipated.

Just like in the depleted field for the 2022 Winter Games which saw Beijing defeat Almaty, the IOC was left with only two candidates again.

With two powerful cities left vying for 2024, Bach realized France or the U.S. could be deterred from going through another contest for 2028 if they lost. Bach floated the idea in December of making revisions to the bidding process to prevent it producing “too many losers,” building support that led to LA and Paris being able to figure out themselves how to share the 2024 and 2028 Games.

The dual award of the Games relieves the IOC of having to test the global interest in hosting the Summer Olympics for several years until the 2032 Games are up for grabs.

Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson called the agreement a “win-win-win scenario.”

The opportunity to host the Games “is a golden occasion further strengthening Los Angeles — not just through bricks and mortar, but through new opportunities for our communities to watch, play and benefit from sport,” Wesson said.

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

The U.S. ends 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 was a finalist for 1992, 2008 and 2012.

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. LA and Paris will join London as the only cities to host the Olympics three times.

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MORE: Rose Bowl, Staples Center among LA Olympic venues

Italian curler roars after hitting shot to qualify for Olympics (video)

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Forgive Amos Mosaner for shouting, for he clinched Italy’s first Olympic curling qualification.

Mosaner’s double takeout in an extra end put Italy past Denmark 6-5 in the last-chance Olympic qualification tournament in Pilsen, Czech Republic, on Sunday.

He rushed down the ice after that last stone, tossed his broom aside, pumped his fist and roared into a group hug with teammates.

Skip Joël Retornaz returns to the Olympics after a 12-year absence. He skipped Italy’s team at the 2006 Olympics, where they earned an automatic berth as host nation.

“This has such a different taste,” the 34-year-old Retornaz said, according to World Curling. “Earning the right on the ice feels great. It feels like a dream for me.”

Denmark later did make the Olympic field as the last nation, beating the Czechs for the spot.

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MORE: List of Russia Olympic medals stripped; new Sochi medal standings

The Pyeongchang Olympic curling fields:

Men
Canada
Sweden
U.S.
Japan
Switzerland
Great Britain
Norway
Italy
Denmark
South Korea

Women
Canada
Russia
Switzerland
Great Britain
U.S.
Sweden
Japan
China
Denmark
South Korea

Mixed Doubles
China
Canada
Russia
U.S.
Switzerland
Norway
Finland
South Korea

Russia says its athletes want to compete at Pyeongchang Olympics

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MOSCOW (AP) — Russian athletes are overwhelmingly in favor of competing at the Pyeongchang Winter Games despite a ban on the national team, the country’s Olympic committee said Monday.

Sofia Velikaya said the Russian Olympic Committee’s athletes’ commission, which she chairs, has heard from “all the athletes in all sports” on the Olympic program, with a majority in favor of competing.

Velikaya said no athletes have told the ROC they would rather boycott.

“At the current moment, everyone’s training and everyone’s hoping to take part in the Olympics,” Velikaya said.

The International Olympic Committee last week barred the Russian team from Pyeongchang because of doping offenses at the Sochi Olympics, but is allowing Russians to compete under a neutral flag as “Olympic Athletes from Russia.”

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the government won’t stand in their way.

ROC spokesman Konstantin Vybornov said teams from biathlon and snowboard had recorded videos affirming their desire to compete, while the men’s hockey team has written “a collective letter.”

Some Russian hardliners believe it is shameful for athletes to compete at the Olympics without their national flag. But Velikaya defended the athletes, saying everyone watching will know who is from Russia.

“The choice of competing at the Olympics is strictly individual,” Velikaya said. “I call on Russian society to treat athletes’ decisions with understanding and respect.”

With the IOC due to send out invitations to individual Russians over the next two months, Velikaya said Russian sports officials would put together lists of their preferred teams.

Those rosters, she said, would stop the IOC from inviting “numbers five and six” in the Russian team while leaving out genuine medal contenders.

Russia is pushing back against some IOC conditions, however, backing appeals by Russian athletes banned for doping at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Velikaya also said her commission will ask the IOC to remove a condition stopping athletes from being invited to Pyeongchang if they have been suspended for doping in the past.

That affects a few athletes with earlier offenses unconnected to the Sochi Olympics, including biathletes banned for using the blood-booster EPO and speed skating world champion Denis Yuskov, who was suspended in 2008 after testing positive for marijuana.

Forcing the Russians to compete as neutral athletes puts the IOC in the uncomfortable position of regulating how they celebrate.

The Russian flag won’t be flown at medal ceremonies, but what happens if a Russian winner accepts a flag or a gift from a spectator for a victory lap? Can Russian athletes fly the flag from their windows in the athletes village?

Those are on a list of questions Vybornov said Russia will ask of the IOC.

“A figure skater wins, let’s say, and they throw her a teddy bear in Russian uniform onto the ice,” Vybornov said. “She picks it up. Can she do that? Or is that an offense?”

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MORE: List of Russia Olympic medals stripped; new Sochi medal standings