LONDON – The race is on for the 2024 Olympics, a five-city contest pitting four European bids against a two-time host from the United States.
The IOC announced the official field of candidates Wednesday, and there were no surprises as the previously declared bidders were all on the list — Budapest, Hungary; Hamburg, Germany; Los Angeles; Paris; and Rome.
"We are welcoming five outstanding and highly qualified candidate cities," International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said.
The deadline for submission of entries expired at midnight on Tuesday in Switzerland. Two other potential candidates — Toronto and Baku, Azerbaijan — decided not to bid.
The IOC also released the host city contract and other documents setting out the two-year bid process, which has been changed to eliminate the cut-down phase and ensure that all candidates go to the final vote in Lima, Peru, in September 2017.
The IOC has been determined to present a healthy number of bids and a strong field for 2024 following the troubled race for the 2022 Winter Games, which was left with only two candidates after four pulled out for financial or political reasons. Beijing defeated Almaty, Kazakhstan, in the IOC vote in July.
"We can really look at a very diverse and creative field," Bach said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday.
The 2024 contest is the first bid process launched since the adoption of Bach's "Olympic Agenda 2020" reform program, which seeks to reduce the cost of hosting the games. Among other things, it pushes for maximum use of existing and temporary facilities.
Bach said the five candidates had all "embraced" his program.
"Sustainability and legacy are the cornerstones of each candidature," he said.
Bach said the IOC will contribute $1.7 billion in cash and services to the organizing committee of whichever city is chosen as host. He expressed confidence the city will produce a surplus on its operating budget, which does not cover long-term infrastructure costs.
Los Angeles, which hosted the 1932 and 1984 Olympics, and Paris, which staged the games in 1900 and 1924, shape up as early front-runners.
Los Angeles stepped in as the U.S. candidate after Boston's bid collapsed in July amid a lack of public and political support. The Californian city is bidding to bring the Summer Games back to the U.S. for the first time since Atlanta held the 1996 Olympics.
Paris is hoping to host the Olympics a century after it last held the games. The French capital, which was an early favorite in the race for the 2012 Games but lost out to London, has secured strong support from the national and local government and is presenting an athlete-centered bid.
Rome seeks to take the games back to the Italian capital for the first time since 1960.
Hamburg's bid faces a referendum among city voters on Nov. 29, with no certainty that it will win.
Toronto had seemed intent on entering the race after hosting the successful Pan American Games this summer, but cooled on the idea amid questions about the cost of the project.
Mayor John Tory on Tuesday said he felt it wasn't the best use of the city's time and money right now and added: "Nobody was rushing forward with their checkbooks." Canada said it would consider future bids for the Olympics.
Baku, which hosted the inaugural European Games in June, had also mulled a run for the Olympics. But Bach said the IOC and Baku officials decided the time was not right and it was better to aim for a possible bid for the 2028 Games.