The International Olympic Committee will look into awarding both the 2024 and 2028 Summer Games this year, its president said on Friday, in a break from tradition which could lock in Paris and Los Angeles over the next two Olympic cycles.
IOC chief Thomas Bach opened the door to the unprecedented move as he announced a high-powered working group to look at options, stressing "everything's on the table".
He refused to quell rampant speculation that the 2024 and 2028 hosts would be decided in one hit in Lima in September, after three rival cities withdrew from the race for 2024, leaving Paris and Los Angeles as the only bidders.
"Everything's on the table," Bach said, adding that the IOC's four vice-presidents would form the working group.
"No option is off the table... this includes also the '24, '28 procedure," he told reporters, after an IOC executive board meeting in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Both Paris and Los Angeles have expressed opposition to being shunted to 2028, saying the agreements and funding they have put in place are focused on the 2024 Games.
The idea of awarding two Games at once has gained currency after the eye-watering price tag of hosting the Olympics scared off rival bidders for 2024, leaving the IOC wondering who will step forward for 2028.
Bach said the working group's findings would be put to IOC members in July when they meet for a candidate city briefing in Lausanne, Switzerland, and potentially put to a vote.
When told that the Olympic charter says hosts must be decided seven years before the Games, except in "exceptional cases", Bach said: "With a charter you always have to have room for interpretation, to adapt to changing times."
- 'Irresponsible' bid -
"We have an opportunity there -- we have two excellent candidates there from two major Olympic countries," Bach said.
"If we look at the world today, you can see a lot of instability, a lot of fragility, a lot of uncertainty," added the German.
"We can see many, many changes. So therefore with this situation (two strong bidders), we're in a comfortable situation and now it will be up to the working group how to best exploit the positive situation."
Soaring costs have made hosting the Games prohibitive, with London 2012 coming in at £8.8 billion ($10.8 billion) and Tokyo 2020's latest budget set at $17 billion -- similar to the GDP of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Budapest last month became the third city to pull out of the bidding for 2024, following public opposition sparked by fears over costs and corruption.
Germany's Hamburg withdrew after a referendum in late 2015, and Rome cancelled its bid last year, with its mayor Virginia Raggi calling it "irresponsible" for the city's finances.
The Winter Olympics has faced similar problems, with only Beijing and Kazakhstan's Almaty bidding for the 2022 Games and no confirmed interest so far for 2026.
In 2014, Russia's Sochi spent $50 billion on hosting the Winter Games, making it the most expensive Olympics in history.
As well as high hosting costs, large-scale doping scandals involving Russia and Kenya have also compromised the Olympics brand, as have corruption allegations against senior IOC members.
Ireland's Patrick Hickey, an IOC executive board member, was detained last year in Rio over an alleged ticketing scam, while ex-sprinter Frankie Fredericks stepped down as chief monitor of the 2024 bids this month following a claim of bribery.