Reporting From Staples Center in Los Angeles, U.S.A. – The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Evaluation Commission concluded that there are no major risks with Los Angeles’ bid to host the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games as it wrapped up an intense three days of meetings Friday with final remarks at the Staples Center.
Commission Chair Patrick Baumann said “In LA there is no major risk we can highlight right now.”
He said it had been a “very production and constructive and pleasant visit.
“This is an incredible team and an incredible Olympic Committee.”
With those comments, Baumann set a high bar for LA’s bid rival Paris as they face the same inspection next week.
Baumann described LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and LA 2024 Chair Casey Wasserman as “the dynamic duo that is at the top of Los Angeles 2024, the 1984 boys” that are “a powerful combination of intelligence, enthusiasm and energy to this task.”
“Los Angeles has developed an excellent proposal and probably given the facilities that are available… seven years of lead time is a luxury here in this city.”
Garcetti later paraphrased the Commission as saying “we keep looking for the hole in this bid and we can’t find it.”
“This has been an immensely successful week, he said, “it really surpassed my expectation.”
One of LA’s most criticized flaws has been poor traffic in the city, but that concern was lightly dismissed by Baumann.
“We didn’t have any particular traffic questions,” he said.
Garcetti explained that during the venue tours, the carpool lanes worked. There was some other congestion otherwise but nothing too severe.
Mayor Garcetti said Thursday that he saw LA as an underdog in this race but claimed his city’s role of the “emotional choice” pointing to the general vibe of LA and the rich sports and Olympic history. 2024, however, would mark the anniversary of Paris’ last Games in 1924.
“I never count anybody out. We have always been underdogs in this race,” the Mayor added Friday.
On Thursday the Commission divided into three groups to explore about thirty proposed venues or temporary sites across greater Los Angeles. Baumann said his group spent a lot of of time at the UCLA and USC university campuses, proposed for the Olympic Village and Media Village respectively, because they are key to LA’s project and “radical reuse” strategy.
The two venues have also risen as key differentiators between LA’s and Paris’ offering to the IOC. LA says using existing but high-quality venues for the villages will remove all costs and risks but Paris claim their newly constructed venues will offer a needed, lasting legacy. LA further claims the (USD) $5.3 billion price tag for the Games is realistic due to this approach, even as several past Games have incurred massive cost over runs.
With IOC members banned from visiting bid cities – a fallout from the 1998 vote buying scandal – there is risk to LA that the 85-or-so voters on September 13 won’t understand how a university campus can stand in for the Olympic Village. U.S. campuses are not typical of those in the rest of the world, a concept that members will need to comprehend on paper.
Baumann praised the campuses Thursday, saying “they have everything for what will be needed for the Games,” he said.
He added “The United States have a very specific way of having campuses and colleges and things like this which is not so common elsewhere. We have a number of people who have been able to be in our Commission who were in 1984 already in the UCLA campus and I think the personal feeling toward it and their experience helps.”
Baumann added that the IOC members will understand the village concept without needing to visit LA because it is similar to Winter Games models in the past.
On Wednesday, the Evaluation team spent the day behind closed doors in a ballroom of the JW Marriot Hotel at LA Live poring over bid documents and presentations and listening LA 2024 bid officials respond to IOC questions sent in advance. In the evening the group attended a welcome dinner at Wasserman’s private Beverly Hills estate with more than 70 guests including action movie star Sylvester Stallone and basketball star Kobe Bryant along with top entertainment industry executives
More than 150 journalists and media personnel were accredited to cover the IOC’s visit to Los Angeles, underlining the attention the intense battle between Los Angeles and Paris has received. About 40 of those are based internationally from 11 countries including France, Britain, Canada, China, Spain, Japan, Nigeria, Senegal, Qatar, Russia and Korea.
Should the IOC award the Games for 2024 and 2028 to Paris and Los Angeles, a possibility the the organization’s Vice President’s are considering, the bidding landscape will change for a decade and the impacts will be far-reaching internationally – especially for nations planning to submit their own bid in the near future.
The IOC team Friday will continue to Paris to start the French Capital’s three-day evaluation that could include a meeting with Emmanuel Macron who will be inaugurated the nation’s President on Sunday.
Baumann had positive things to say about the French bid in advance of the trip to France.
“It is clearly a win-win situation,” he said. “We have two of the best cities we can dream of for the Olympics.”
Two Commission members, Tsunekazu Takeda of Japan and Gunilla Lindberg of Sweden were absent from the LA visit due to illness and are expected to be absent from the Paris inspection as well.
The Evaluation Commission will publish a report on the results of their reviews July 5 ahead of presentations to the IOC membership later that month in Lausanne.
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.