POSTED: April 29th 2014

JOHN GOODBODY: U.S. right to try to stage 2024 Summer Olympics

Los Angeles hosted the 1932 Games / Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games
Los Angeles hosted the 1932 Games / Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games

THE JOHN GOODBODY COLUMN / An authoritative and exclusive series from Sports Features Communications

(SFC) For many in the Olympic Movement, lingering memories of both the lacklustre 1996 Games in Atlanta and also the dispute over how much money the United  States Olympic Committee (USOC) should get from TV and sponsorship revenue have cost American cities dearly in recent attempts to stage the Games.

No Summer Olympics have been held in the United States since 1996 and no Winter Games since 2002 and there is now no prospect of one before 2024 at the earliest. Both bidding cities and the USOC have been reluctant to try again since 2009 when Rio de Janeiro was awarded the 2016 Games and Chicago went out in the first round of the ballot, despite Barack Obama going to Copenhagen before the vote to support his home town.

The first step to ease relations between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the USOC came in May 2012, when an agreement was finalised over the broadcast and sponsorship revenues, with the USOC getting $410 million every four years, plus inflation and a percentage of revenue from new growth areas beginning in 2020. The USOC had always argued that it was entitled to such a substantial cut of Olympic revenues because the bulk of television revenue and most of the TOP sponsors came from the United States.

But as memories begin to fade of the Atlanta Olympics, it is welcome that the USOC will decide in June on a shortlist of a maximum of three cities keen to host the 2024 Olympics. With Rio staging the Games in 2016 and Tokyo those in 2020, it is almost certain that either Europe or north America is likely to get the following Summer Games. In the United States, seven cities are candidates: Boston, Dallas, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington D.C.

The USOC is keen not to repeat the mistakes of the past, although those ‘mistakes’ were largely those of perceptions by the members of the IOC. However, Scott Blackman, the USOC chief executive, has also said that he did not feel that the domestic bid processes worked effectively and that the cost for the bidding city to get selected as the American candidate would now be less than $1 million, compared to up to 10 times that amount in previous years. The final choice would be made later this year.

Los Angeles has, of course, staged two previous Games --in 1932 and 1984. But it is planning a largely new set of facilities, although the Coliseum, venue for the athletics and the opening and closing ceremonies in both previous Games will once again be extensively refurbished if the city is awarded the 2024 Olympics.

Los Angeles is proposing three main clusters of facilities, with the main one in the centre of the city consisting of 12 venues, capable of staging 19 sports.  There would be another cluster of facilities in a glamorous setting near Hollywood while the sailing would take place off Long Beach.

Los Angeles is obviously intending to benefit from its long association with the Olympics with so many famous Olympians coming from the state of California. However, it is odd that San Diego is also one of the candidates, given its proximity to Los Angeles.

With Paris and possibly Rome likely to bid for 2024, it is clear that no American city will have its own way.  However, it is important for the Olympic Movement that there is a strong U.S. bid, which attracts a decent number of votes, if only to act as a trial run for the Games of 2028. The Olympic Movement needs the United States to be closely involved in its future. 

** JOHN GOODBODY covered the 2012 Olympics for The Sunday Times, his 12th successive Summer Games and is the author of the audio book A History of the Olympics, read by Barry Davies, the BBC commentator. He was Sports News Correspondent of The Times 1986-2007, for whom he received journalistic awards in all three decades on the paper, including Sports Reporter of The Year in 2001.

Keywords · John Goodbody · Los Angeles 1984 · Los Angeles 1932

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