The International Olympic Committee has hailed the Los Angeles and Paris bids to host the 2024 Olympic Games as "outstanding" as the two would-be Games venues prepare to make their penultimate presentations to IOC members.
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Four other cities - Budapest, Rome, Hamburg and Boston - had also expressed interest before quitting the bidding process, leaving the last two candidates, both of which are hoping to win the right to stage the Games for the third time.
Paris hosted the 1900 and 1924 Olympics, with the 1932 and 1984 Games being in Los Angeles.
The IOC will vote for the 2024 winner on Sept. 13. The organisation's executive board has recommended that the same session should also award the 2028 Games.
That proposal is expected to be confirmed next week with the city that misses out on the 2024 Games likely to be named as host for the 2028 Olympics.
"Over the course of our evaluation, these two world-class cities proved their ability to host exceptional Olympic Games," wrote the head of the IOC evaluation committee, Patrick Baumann.
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"And they did so in a way that clearly reflects the unique circumstances and flavours each city has to offer to the world."
Both cities are praised in the report as having the potential to deliver successful Games, with Los Angeles being commended for its low-risk strategy of using existing or temporary venues.
"There are only three new permanent venues proposed, and each one is already planned by private investors irrespective of the Olympic Games," the report said.
"With so many world-class sports facilities at its disposal, the Los Angeles venue inventory exceeds Games’ needs."
The Los Angeles bid is based on private funding and requires no major construction from the side of organisers with 97 percent of venues existing or temporary.
It also has greater popular backing amongst locals than Paris - in an IOC-commissioned independent poll conducted in February, 78 percent of Los Angeles residents supported their city's bid, as opposed to 63 percent for Paris.
"LA 2024 set out to redefine Olympic sustainability, guided by the IOC’s Olympic Agenda 2020 reforms, and we are delighted that our efforts have resonated so clearly with the IOC Evaluation Commission," said LA 2024 bid chief Casey Wasserman in a statement.
Paris's plan to use iconic venues including the Eiffel Tower, the river Seine and the Louvre museum, and its compact two-cluster plan with 93 percent of venues existing or temporary also won approval along with the city's extensive public transportation.
But the IOC said creating an Olympic-sized atmosphere across the central Olympic zone remained a challenge, and noted that there was still some land which needed to be acquired for the construction of the Olympic village.
"We are honoured that Paris’ compact, city-centre Games Plan received extensive praise," said Paris 2024 co-chair Tony Estanguet.
"We are absolutely delighted that the IOC’s report highlights that Paris would be an excellent host of the 2024 Games."
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Julian Shea)