From Paris 2024 to Los Angeles 2028: The Olympic continuity?

Passing the torch from one Olympic Games to the next is as much a symbolic gesture, illustrating the continuity of the Olympic spirit, as it is a sharing of experience necessary for the successful organisation of the Games. Continuity between Paris and Los Angeles should make the Games a modern event focused on contemporary issues while promoting the sharing of knowledge between France and the United States.

By Alexis Papin

Paris and Los Angeles: a linked destiny

Two cities, one destiny. This is the path shared by the French capital and the Southern California city since the advent of the modern Olympic Games. Along with London, Paris and Los Angeles are the only cities in history to host the Summer Games three times. The City of Angels held the Games in 1932 and 1984. But the link doesn’t end there. Against the backdrop of successive withdrawals from bidding by Rome, Hamburg, and Budapest, Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee, made the choice to launch double nomination procedures.1 In March 2017, both Paris and Los Angeles presented strong bids before hosting rights for successive Summer Games were finally distributed between the two cities on September 13, 2017. Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris and Eric Garcetti, former mayor of the Californian city, also signed an Olympic twinning agreement to develop partnerships between the two cities by setting common objectives. Three common pillars structure this partnership: the fight against climate change and environmental protection, solidarity and inclusion, and innovation and start-ups. The two successive editions of the Games also benefit from a new common roadmap: the Olympic Agenda 2020+5, adopted in March 2021. Among the major themes of the roadmap are strengthening the role of sport as an important enabler for the UN Sustainable Development Goals, reinforcing support to refugees and populations affected by displacement, reaching out beyond the Olympic community, continuing to lead by example in corporate citizenship, strengthening the Olympic movement through good governance, and innovating revenue generation models. Indeed, what the two editions of the Games have in common is that they mark a turning point towards the future of major events in the wake of Tokyo 2020.

Games-themed diplomacy

An initiative of the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in France, « Games 4 All » (“Des Jeux pour tous”), puts into practice the cooperation announced between the two cities through actions promoting urban cultures, diversity, innovation, and sustainable development. When two American break dance stars, B-boy Jacob « Kujo » Lyons and B-girl « Sunny » Choi, visited France in early April, the joint showcase between Paris and Los Angeles proved its worth by jointly promoting the discipline that will make its first Olympic appearance at the Paris Games. After an exchange between athletes on the launch of the discipline in the Olympic program, the event ended with a battle between students from the hip-hop teams of the Turgot high school in Paris and the Jean-Jacques Rousseau high school in Sarcelles. American ambassador Denise Bauer underscored the importance of these Franco-American initiatives to the theme of Olympic continuity. « Our goal with this campaign is to underline the strength of the ties between the United States and France in the field of sport, as much as the importance of the health of the body, the mind, and the planet« , explained the diplomat.2 In addition to this inaugural program, French coaches and officials will have the opportunity to travel to the United States to exchange ideas on how sport can be mobilised to improve the mental health of young people. More broadly, the world of research should benefit from this impetus for cooperation. The Fulbright France bilateral grant system, which promotes academic exchanges, should now see the development of new research projects on the Paris and Los Angeles Olympic Games, notably on quantifying their impact on inclusion, environmental, and social matters.3

Safety issues at the heart of transmission

The regular exchanges between successive Olympic Committees, particularly on security issues, should enable Los Angeles to rise to the security challenges that lie ahead for the event. The cross-cutting threats expected by Paris one year ahead of the Games illustrate the range of issues currently weighing on such events. Since Los Angeles, like Paris, already has most of the infrastructures required to host the Games, security is the number one priority. As early as 2017, the US Olympic Committee was planning a budget exceeding $2 billion for security at the 2028 Games.4 Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) now has a new terminal, completed last year in preparation for the event. Securing large-scale air traffic will be a major challenge in an airport that is already the 5th busiest in the world. It is an opportunity to develop thematic partnerships with players involved in Paris 2024. For example, Thales, which specialises in airport security, will further enhance its reactive security management solutions by integrating video management solutions, access control systems, complex video analytics, investigation tools, and coordinated intrusion detection systems during next year’s Games. Ahead of the Los Angeles Games, Mayor Karen Bass has announced the recruitment of 9,500 new LAPD agents. Sheriff Alex Villanueva has likewise used the Olympics as a justification for expanding his agency. If implemented, these personnel expansions would not be a short-term boost just for the duration of the Olympics’. Instead, hiring would begin years before the Games, and there is little reason to expect the expansion would be reversed afterwards.

Organising Committee member, council member, and former police officer Joe Buscaino said, “My message to you is: If you look at the terrorist attacks in Munich in 1972, here in Atlanta in 1996, Beijing 2008, the non-terrorist attack leading up to the Mexico City Games in 1968, 300 protesters killed, don’t police on the cheap.”5

With the massive integration of new staff, experience sharing will be essential to bringing the entire workforce up to speed with the challenges of the Olympics. To meet expectations, the American internal security forces will be able to benefit from French expertise gained in Paris in 2024. This exchange has already begun. The mission of the French GIGN, RAID, and BRI units in the United States is a direct result of this approach.

In terms of equipment, a range of innovations that will be part of the Paris 2024 event are set to be permanent fixtures. An example are algorithmic video surveillance systems, which will make their debut during the next Olympics. Until COVID-19 excluded the possibility of in-person fans at the Tokyo Games, the plan was to use facial recognition for security at all venues. This is planned for the Los Angeles Games, which will also benefit from feedback in the wake of Paris 2024 on the deployment of AI in video surveillance.



3 Ibid