As International Olympic Committee (IOC) Evaluation Commission members board flights to Los Angeles for a critical three-day visit to inspect plans and venues for the city’s 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games bid, an unlikely opposition group has risen.
Despite the independently reported 88 per cent public support for the bid and hosting the Olympic Games in 2024, the Los Angeles chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA-LA) claim that residents haven’t been given a platform to discuss their concerns. DSA-LA have launched opposition campaign NOlympics LA mimicking similar movements that have so far brought 2024 bids from Boston, Hamburg and Budapest to their premature ends.
Only Los Angeles and bid rival Paris remain in the race for the Games, and the IOC has hinted that it’s possible that the defeated city in the race will be asked to host in 2028 instead.
But DSA-LA are opposed to hosting the Games in Los Angeles any time.
“We want to challenge this idea that everyone in L.A. is excited about the Olympics,” DSA-LA member Jonny Coleman told the LA Times Monday.
“We’re creating a platform for people, whatever your criticism,” Coleman said. “We want to show the mayor and City Council that people do care.”
On its campaign website nolympicsla.com, the group doesn’t criticize the bid for the risk of cost overruns or a negative environmental impact – an apparent supportive nod for LA 2024’s extremely efficient plans requiring only private funding and no permanent construction. Instead, DSA-LA claims that “even a ‘good’ Olympics will be bad for LA.
There are “consequences of a ‘good’ Olympics, where everything goes according to plan, nothing goes over budget, and there are no major ecological disasters or other crises,” the website continues.
It discussed the impact of construction (of temporary venues) and displacement; the diversion of resources from other issues such as housing and poverty; and the “exploitation” of Olympic athletes, among others who, they say “typically make well below a living wage.”
“We, therefore, reject Los Angeles’s bid for the 2024/2028 Olympics and will not rest until this bid has officially been rescinded by our city leaders, the people who swore an oath to address the needs of their communities.”
“L.A. has a lot of other priorities,” member Anne Orchier told the LA Times. “Our first goal is to start that conversation.”
The United States Olympic Committee (IOC) chose Los Angeles as a last-hour bid replacement for embattled Boston when opposition rose in the city on the U.S. East Coast. A group under the name ‘No Boston Olympics’ ran an extensive social media campaign that drove public support numbers below 40 per cent forcing the Mayor to deny the bid any city funding – virtually ending the city’s chances of hosting the Games.
But Los Angeles, with an extensive array of existing venues and a positive legacy from the 1984 Olympic Games, proposed a privately funded concept with no permanent construction required by the organizing committee. Remembering that Los Angeles turned a profit during its previous Games, the public doesn’t fear crippling cost overruns and have provided widespread support for the bid.
But the NOlympics believe that “the ‘84 Olympics were followed by one of the greatest periods of injustice and oppression and social unrest in our city’s history, culminating in the 1992 Uprising.”
The group says that period was ushered in by the Games – a result of the Olympic hangover symptoms of rising unemployment and the ‘militarization’ of police.
NOlympics LA spokesperson Coleman could not immediately respond to a GamesBids.com request for comment, instead saying “we’re a bit swamped at the moment,” describing the fledgling campaign.
LA 2024 has yet to respond to a request for comment.