By a vote of 15-0, Los Angeles City Council authorized Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to pursue a bid for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games. Later, the city’s Olympic bid was endorsed by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) board of directors.
The vote came after several council members expressed concern about a city guarantee to pay for potential Olympic budget overruns, which the International Olympic Committee (IOC) typically demands of host cities but the Mayor has said he plans to offer that guarantee in order to secure the Games. Council’s action established as “guiding principle” for the city’s pursuit with a provision that any commitments of public funds will require another council vote.
Council President Herb Wesson said the resolution approved by the council would ensure council members are able to influence the city’s Olympic bid as it advances over the next two years.
— Casey Wasserman (@caseywasserman) September 1, 2015
At a press conference following the announcement Wesson likened the agreement to a “prenup”. He said “the city’s actions [today] are the engagement, not the wedding – this is the prenup stage.”
He continued to describe a process where the numbers will be reviewed and “scrubbed” in coordination with the city council before being finalized for the IOC. The IOC is revising the bid process for 2024 and will announce the final procedure at the September 15 application deadline. However, initial bid details, including financial guarantees will likely be due by January 2016.
Garcetti has vowed to sign an IOC host contract that would make the city financially liable if the Games ended up in debt. He has said no tax dollars would be needed because billions in broadcast, sponsorship and ticket revenues would cover costs and generate a $161-million surplus.
LA 24 CEO Casey Wasserman said that although there could be changes, the venue plan is solid with several secondary options available but, he said, “I can guarantee you that should we win the opening and closing ceremonies will be at the [L.A.] Coliseum.”
Boston was originally the USOC’s choice for the 2024 Olympic Games but after a series of dismal public support polls that forced the Mayor to back down from offering taxpayer support, Boston and the USOC agreed to part ways. But International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach continued to pressure the United States to honour its commitment to submit a bid for 2024 in time for the September 15 deadline and the U.S. body looked elsewhere.
The initial proposal carries a budget of $4.1 billion with an additional $150 million in insurance premiums and a $400 million contingency fund for cost overruns.
The environmentally sustainable bid puts the athletes’ experience at the heart of the Games. LA 2024’s plan is based on the core principles of the International Olympic Committee’s Olympic Agenda 2020 with 85 per cent of proposed venues in place or planned and five primary venue clusters all within 30 minutes of the proposed Athletes’ Village.
Garcetti said at an announcement ceremony Tuesday, “today, I am proud to officially launch our bid in partnership with the USOC as we aim to bring the Olympic and Paralympic Games back to the U.S. for the first time in 28 years. It is an honour for any city to host the Olympic Games, and Los Angeles is uniquely prepared for this task. With the unanimous support of our City Council, we are ready to serve and strengthen the Olympic Movement and build a new Olympic legacy”.
USOC CEO Scott Blackmun, who was also in attendance said, “we are thrilled to be partnering with Los Angeles as our U.S. bid city for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. L.A. has proven experience in hosting the Games, and knows how to deliver world-class events for athletes and an extraordinary experience for fans. Coupled with the city’s culture of creativity and innovation, we are confident L.A. can deliver an outstanding Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2024”.
Wasserman said last week that Los Angeles had been the first choice of USOC leadership in January before the Board instead voted for Boston, so it was natural for the USOC to re-engage with the Southern California bid after Boston’s demise. The bid quickly released a 218-page bid book and preliminary financials showing a potential financial surplus using mostly existing venues.
Los Angeles has bid for the Olympic Games nine times and hosted twice, in 1932 and 1984. The United States last hosted the Summer Games in Atlanta in 1996 and the Winter Games in Salt Lake City in 2002; since then bids have been submitted from New York for 2012 and Chicago for 2016 – both bids placing fourth in international balloting.
L.A. will face Budapest, Hamburg, Paris and Rome – cities that have already entered the race. Other cities have until the mid-September IOC deadline to make up their minds and both Toronto and Baku have shown interest. After a two-year campaign, the IOC will vote for the host city September 2017 at its all-members session 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.