Paris stops short of claiming victory after L.A. announcement

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PARIS — After failing three times in recent bids, sheer joy was expected from Paris officials when Los Angeles ceded the 2024 Olympics to the City of Lights.

Paris bid leaders, however, opted for a diplomatic approach, stopping short of claiming the 2024 Games were guaranteed to be organized in their city.

“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,” bid committee co-chairman Tony Estanguet said. “(The) announcements are a sign of the progress being made and the delivery of a good solution to the IOC members in September in Lima.”

The L’Equipe sports newspaper was more enthusiastic on Tuesday, celebrating the French capital’s victory by running a front page headline claiming “La Joie est Libre!” — a play of words on the expression “La Voie est Libre,” which means the way has been cleared.

Although optimistic, Paris bid leaders remained cautious in their official reactions. That attitude is consistent with their position since launching the bid a little but more than two years ago, which contrasted with the perceived arrogance in previous bids for the 1992, 2008, and 2012 Games.

The last time it bid, Paris was considered the favorite in the race for the 2012 Olympics, only to lose out to London in a close vote in 2005 following a poor lobbying campaign. This time, they opted for a more humble and sports-driven approach, leaving government officials in a supporting role and making sure all the political hurdles were cleared before going forward.

There was no direct reaction from French president Emmanuel Macron, a strong supporter of the Paris project, and other officials said they would not celebrate until a three-way deal between Los Angeles, Paris and the International Olympic Committee is officially announced on Sept. 13 in Lima, Peru.

Macron’s office issued a statement on Tuesday saying that the French president spoke with IOC President Thomas Bach and that France “took note of Los Angeles’ decision to bid for 2028 and to find a deal with the IOC and Paris.”

“French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes this very important step towards obtaining the games for France in 2024 and remains very committed to make our country’s bid win with all the French, the athletes, and all partners involved,” the statement said.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who played a key role in convincing the IOC that Paris was the right city for 2024 by hammering the message that her city was not interested in hosting the 2028 edition, only said she was confident a “win-win-win” agreement can be secured ahead of the IOC session in Peru.

“Paris and Los Angeles are two amazing global cities that are united in their support of the Olympic cause and we stand together now to help the games thrive in 2024 and 2028,” Hidalgo said. “As today’s announcement shows, dialogue between the IOC and the two cities is progressing well.”

Barring a major hiccup ahead of the IOC session, Paris will be hosting the Olympics for the first time in 100 years. Besides 1924, the French capital also hosted the Olympics in 1900.