Los Angeles’ bid for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games presented first among rival bids to delegates of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) in Doha, Qatar Tuesday. In front of over 1,000 key stakeholder delegates, LA promised a “transformative Games to guarantee greater sustainability and youth connection for future Games.”
The delegation was lead by key bid executives including chair Casey Wasserman, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and Vice Chair Janet Evans – but it was six-time athletics Olympic champion Allyson Felix who addressed the proverbial elephant in the room. Discussions about a Donald Trump Presidency in the United States has been a hot topic in Doha this week due to his xenophobic election rhetoric and inward-looking policies.
“I want to tell you about the America that I love, and the America that needs the Games to help make our nation better – now more than ever.”
“America is diverse. We are a nation of people whose descendants came from all over the world for a better life,” Felix, an African American, said.
“But…we’re also a nation with individuals like me…descendants of people who came to America…not of their own free will…but against it.
“We just finished our presidential election, and some of you may question America’s commitment to its founding principles. I have one message for you: Please don’t doubt us. America’s diversity…is our greatest strength.
“Diversity…is not…easy. Diversity is a leap of faith…that embraces all faiths.”
Mayor Garcetti explained “I see an America that is outward-looking, ready to play its role alongside the community of nations to address our world’s most pressing challenges.”
“Choose LA2024 and help us show a new generation of Americans that our strength is being with the world, not turning our backs to it. I believe the Olympic and Paralympic Games are the light we are seeking and that we must look to follow.”
LA’s key differentiation from among Budapest and Paris is the extreme use of existing or temporary venues that will result in very little new permanent construction – in fact earlier this week it was reported that the bid will not even publish a capital projects budget since there there would be no line-items to include. This, the bid explains, will help set the focus, for seven years, on perfecting the athlete experience instead.
To that end, Janet Evans announced LA 2024’s commitment to establishing an Olympic Village Council in partnership with the International Olympic Committee and ANOC, to ensure the existing facilities for the Olympic Village at the UCLA campus provide the “most personalized ever” Games-time experience for the athletes of the world.
“LA 2024 is the right bid, at the right place, at the right time,” Evans said.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Angela Ruggiero said “we are not changing our city to fit the Games, we are adapting the Games Concept to fit our city – and that is true innovation. If you believe in Olympic Agenda 2020, then you have to believe in LA 2024’s Concept.”
Wasserman summarized the plans to address the IOC’s Agenda 2020 reforms geared for bidding.
“Our goal is to reimagine a Games model that will do three things; use high tech to redefine sustainability, use innovation to minimize risk and use creativity to engage the global youth audience, he said.
He added, in apparent reference to Paris advocates who also claim possession of Earth’s star, “our vision, which we call ‘Follow the Sun’, is not about our Olympic weather; it’s about the future-focused culture of a special place called ‘California’.”
Mayor Garcetti laid out LA’s value proposition to the IOC, one that he admitted to being radical. He claimed that LA, like at the 1984 Games, could help save the Olympic Movement.
“We believe our campaign isn’t just about the Games in our city in 2024. We believe this bid is about ensuring that the Games are sustainable beyond 2024 as well.”
“In other words, this bid isn’t only about LA’s future – it’s about our collective future. This is a stark and unique difference about our bid.
“We are planning a great Games in Los Angeles – make no mistake – but we’re also laying the ground work along with you for future games.”
Speaking in both Spanish and English the Mayor added “Let me put that into context- I was a thirteen-year-old child when the most amazing thing came to my city – the 1984 Olympic Games. And they changed my city forever, and they changed me forever.”
“I saw the face of the world on the streets of Los Angeles and I became a believer in the power of the Olympic Movement to transform the world.”
The ANOC presentations were the first of three planned and approved events by the IOC during the 2024 bid campaign. The cities will present next July at a special session in Lausanne, Switzerland and then again just prior to the host city election September 13 in Lima, Peru.
A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.