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Race for 2024 Games heats up as four cities submit bids

BERLIN (Reuters) - The race for the 2024 Olympics heated up on Wednesday as the International Olympic Committee confirmed four cities -- Rome, Paris, Budapest and Los Angeles -- had submitted the first part of their bids to host the Games.

The logo of the Paris candidacy for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games is pictured in Paris, France, February 17, 2016. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

The four potential hosts delivered their vision, concept and strategy plans by Wednesday’s deadline, the IOC said.

The Olympic body has introduced a new three-part bidding process that is aimed at making the Games more attractive to potential hosts as well as making it easier and cheaper to bid.

Previously cities would submit a single bid to host the Games.

The IOC hopes the new process will allow it to check at an early stage whether bidders actually meet the criteria to host the Games, while helping to avoid the sudden withdrawals that have recently become commonplace.

Several candidates for recent Olympics have dropped out in mid-race, citing concerns over the rising costs of hosting the Games or amid strong opposition from local residents.

Four of the six cities bidding to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, including Oslo and Stockholm, pulled out of the race well before last year’s vote.

Los Angeles, which has twice before hosted the Games, only entered the race after Boston pulled out over financial concerns.

Hamburg withdrew its bid for the 2024 Games when citizens of the German port city voted against a bid last year.

“Coming from different starting points, for all four there is a clear focus on sustainable development, legacy and in particular how the facilities are going to be used after the Olympic Games,” said IOC President Thomas Bach in a statement.

“We are delighted to have four extremely strong candidatures and look forward to a fascinating competition.”

Bach pushed through a series of reforms last year with many of them aimed at reducing the cost of bidding and staging the Games in an attempt to present the Olympics as a lucrative prospect for cities.

In an effort to avoid venues becoming white elephants, candidates are now encouraged to integrate the Games into their own urban plans rather than adapt the city to fit the needs of the Olympics.

The use of temporary or existing venues is also encouraged in order to keep construction costs low.

Part two of the bidding process, which is Governance, Legal and Venue Funding must be delivered by Oct. 7. The deadline for the third part -- Games Delivery, Experience and Venue Legacy -- is Feb. 3, 2017.

The IOC will then undertake working visits to all four cities before the final vote of IOC members to decide the 2024 hosts takes place at its session in September 2017.

Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Toby Davis