A statement made Wednesday by LA 2024 Chair Casey Wasserman appeared to concede the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games to rival bid Paris, just two days ahead of a meeting that is expected to draw a road map that would see both cities awarded the Games, one in 2024 and the other in 2028.
But an LA 2024 spokesperson told GamesBids.com this was not the case, adding that Wasserman’s comments are simply part of the narrative that the bid has been reinforcing throughout the campaign.
The International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Executive Board is set to discuss the possible double-awarding of the 2024 and 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games to Paris and Los Angeles at a meeting in Lausanne Friday and it is believe that the somewhat controversial plan will be given the green light.
That will leave a single important question: what city will host first?
Paris officials claim that the city does not have access to the property being proposed for the Olympic Village beyond 2024, so any Games in 2028 with the existing concept is simply not possible. LA’s plans, since they don’t require any permanent Games-only venues, could be delivered in 2028.
But LA officials are asking ‘why wait’? Their low-risk plan is available today.
Wasserman wrote “to be blunt, LA 2024 has never been only about LA or 2024. Even when the issue of a dual award for the 2024 and 2028 Games was initially raised, we didn’t say it’s “LA first” or it’s “now or never” for LA: that sounds like an ultimatum.”
“We don’t believe in ultimatums – we believe in partnership; that’s why we are willing to look beyond ourselves and ask the question ‘how can LA best serve the long-term needs of the Olympic and Paralympic Games?’ he added leading many to believe that the Chair was about to concede the race to Paris for the greater good of the Olympic Games.
That belief was reinforced by the use of the words ‘withdrawn’ and ‘walked away’ in the first paragraph.
Wasserman’s statement foreshadows discussions that could occur in the wake of the implementation of the double-award plan, and could be a tactic to lower the volume on rhetoric coming from Paris and the media that claim the IOC are set to choose Paris for 2024.
But it also seems to serve as ‘permission’ from LA for the IOC to award the Games to Paris, an easy way out for the Olympic movement and effectively the concession LA 2024 denies.
Whichever city is ultimately chosen to host in 2024, it will be their third Games.
Here is Casey Wasserman’s statement in full:
June 7, 2017
An Opportunity to Serve
By LA 2024 Chairman Casey Wasserman
In recent years, several cities have withdrawn from bidding for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. They walked away due to a variety of reasons, but mostly due to cost and legacy concerns, and the resulting devastating impact on public support. That’s why the IOC created its Olympic Agenda 2020 reforms, which have guided us in the creation and planning of our 2024 bid.
In my city and country, there is an unshakeable public confidence for the Games. Even after Boston 2024 withdrew, Los Angeles’ faith in the Olympic Movement encouraged us to step forward with our 10th Olympic bid – a record. 88% of Angelenos support our bid in a city where almost 40% of the population was born outside the US. That’s called unity, not diversity – just like the Olympic Movement itself.
At the meeting of the Association of National Olympic Committees in November of last year, our Mayor Eric Garcetti said something profound for a bid. He said, “we believe this campaign isn’t just about the Games in our city in 2024 … it’s about ensuring that the Games are sustainable and relevant in every year beyond 2024.”
To be blunt, LA 2024 has never been only about LA or 2024. Even when the issue of a dual award for the 2024 and 2028 Games was initially raised, we didn’t say it’s “LA first” or it’s “now or never” for LA: that sounds like an ultimatum. We could have used that strategy, but we didn’t because we thought it was presumptuous to tell the IOC what to do and how to think. We’re better partners than that. It has always been our contention that LA 2024 had to make as much sense for the Olympic Movement as it did for the people of LA. And we’ve stuck to that premise.
Our bid reflects a unified, diverse and welcoming city, and we want to make it clear to the IOC and the global sports community that LA’s primary focus isn’t on ourselves; instead, we are focused on the Olympic Movement and the world. For some, that may be a surprising statement for an American bid; but, it shouldn’t be because America’s support for the Games has never wavered – ever.
We are confident in our plan and in our Games legacy for the people of LA because we don’t have to build any new permanent venues – that’s the new definition of “Olympic sustainability.” And during its recent trip to Los Angeles, the IOC’s Evaluation Commission resolutely confirmed the technical excellence of LA’s plan for the 2024 Games. In fact, they called it “mind blowing.” We are ready to share it now with the world in the service of the Olympic Movement.
We don’t believe in ultimatums – we believe in partnership; that’s why we are willing to look beyond ourselves and ask the question “how can LA best serve the long-term needs of the Olympic and Paralympic Games?”
Follow the Sun has always been an invitation to the future. LA 2024 offers the Movement a “no surprises” plan that can help redefine sustainability for the Games, ensure continued financial stability for the Olympic Movement and create new opportunities to engage with young people around the world. For these reasons and many more, Follow the Sun is an opportunity, for everyone.
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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.