Los Angeles and Paris have been praised by an International Olympic Committee panel for having "outstanding" plans to host the 2024 Summer Games.
Storytelling skills and cutting-edge technologies from LA, plus "stunning backdrops" in Paris where the modern Olympics was reborn, were anticipated eagerly by an IOC evaluation commission which assessed the bidders in a 180-page dossier and 15-minute video published Wednesday.
"Their candidatures have put the Olympic Movement in a win-win situation, with very little to separate the two projects," said Patrick Baumann, the panel chairman and an IOC member.
Both cities should get hosting rights for the 2024 or 2028 Olympics on Sept. 13, at the IOC's annual meeting being held in Lima, Peru. Paris is viewed as favorite for 2024.
The evaluation was prepared for IOC members who will meet bid leaders at a key campaign event on July 11-12 in Lausanne. Members are also now expected to ratify the proposal for a double hosting award, which the IOC executive board formally made last month.
In statements issued Wednesday, both cities' bid campaigns said they were delighted with the evaluation.
Challenges highlighted for the two cities include public transport and traffic management plans in Los Angeles, which groups most venues in four clusters: Downtown, Valley, South Bay and Long Beach.
The panel noted that the IOC would want to review in advance new laws that are needed to guarantee tax and funding aspects of the Paris project. Many events would take place in the city center, and use the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and Louvre art gallery as a backdrop.
LA's privately-financed project scored better than Paris, which calls for hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayers' money, in the IOC's own polling of public support for hosting the Summer Games.
It is always unclear in Olympic bidding contests how much the technical analysis of candidates' plans affect the choice of more than 85 IOC members eligible to vote.
Still, Los Angeles and Paris have long been viewed as high-class, low-risk options. The IOC has seemed grateful to have them after years of spiraling spending and cost overruns by host cities, and public opposition that ended other bids.
IOC President Thomas Bach has pushed for a double award since December, aiming to seize the chance of stability for the next decade.
Seeking to avoid construction costs and risks of creating white elephant venues, LA and Paris are praised for proposing to use existing and temporary arenas for 97 and 93 percent, respectively, of their Summer Games' needs.
The only permanent venue yet to be built in Los Angeles is the $2.6 billion stadium in Inglewood to be shared by the NFL's Rams and Chargers. It would host the opening ceremony on July 19, 2024.
Plans for an athletes' village have been a potentially key difference between the bids.
LA proposes to use existing student accommodation at UCLA described by Baumann's team as "outstanding in all aspects."
The Paris plan to build a $1.45 billion village near the Stade de France, which would host track and field plus the opening ceremony on Aug. 2, 2024. The village has shaped up as the riskiest project in either bid, though it will be underwritten by the national government.
However, the IOC panel described its "idyllic waterfront setting" and praised the plan to convert the athletes' residence into "much-needed housing ... in one of the youngest, most diverse areas of the city."
LA scored better than Paris in the IOC-commissioned polls conducted in February which sought the opinions of 1,800 adults at city, regional and national level.
In the city of LA, 78 percent of residents supported the project and 8 percent were opposed. In Paris, it was 63 percent for and 23 percent against.
Paris was judged stronger on public transport, with the IOC panel praising the "amazing feature in such a huge metropolis" of "high-capacity public transport within 400 meters of every venue."
Both cities have full government guarantees to plan and fund security for the games, the report said, noting that the current risk levels are "high" in Paris and "low to medium" in Los Angeles.
Details of the dossier will be pored over in Lausanne next week, with the IOC members expected to vote for awarding both games at the same time.
If they do, the choice of the host cities may even be agreed among the two bidders informally, ahead of the meeting in Lima.
"Both cities are open to being approached by the IOC after such a vote to discuss how to achieve a win-win-win." Bach said last month.