POSTED: July 29th 2015

NEIL WILSON: Los Angeles beware - second best is not good enough

Los Angeles city skyline / Bigstock
Los Angeles city skyline / Bigstock

THE NEIL WILSON COLUMN / An exclusive, authoritative series from Sports Features Communications

(SFC) As long ago as August of 2014 in this column I wrote that it was time for Los Angeles to call in a debt owed it by the OIympic Movement. The city should be chosen by the United States Olympic Committee as its candidate for 2024.

 The USOC, in its wisdom, chose unanimously to ignore LA's claim as the successful host of 1984 and opted for Boston. A huge mistake, as it transpires, that throws open to question whether the USOC has any collective wisdom.

Now, in all likelihood, the same 16 members of its Board of Directors will turn to LA to replace Boston now that its Mayor, Martin J. Walsh, has had the sense to refuse to sign up for a bid that more than half of his citizens polled against.

LA, as the Californian IOC member Anita DeFrantz told us recently, is "perpetually ready" to host a Games. It could host another, she claimed, at two years notice.

So it could but would IOC members welcome it? Going into a contest against opposition candidates as strong as Rome and Paris as your own nation's second-best candidate is not a good start.

LA would be tarnished in the year of lobbying by that tag. Its boosters among the IOC's own membership, the four US IOC members who each voted for Boston first time round, , would have an impossible job explaining their second guessing.

What is worse LA's bid, however strong, would be following the disastrous bids of New York for 2012 and Chicago for 2016, both first round losers in spite of the presence at the vote of America's political giants, Clinton and Obama. A third defeat in a row would seriously threaten Olympism in the US.

There are some suggestions that LA should be advanced as a candidate for 2024 merely to position itself for a more credible run for 2028. Never a good strategy. Ask Istanbul or Madrid, both unsuccessful multiple bidders. Or, more pertinently, ask Paris, a loser for the 1992 and 2012 Games.

And if Toronto decides to follow its hosting of the Pan-Am Games this month - it has until September 15 to confirm interest - the interest within the IOC in taking a summer Games to North America for the first time since 1996 for commercial reasons would be hopelessly split.

Los Angeles may be perpetually ready. It may have more than 70% of its citizenry in favour, as polls suggest. But it would do itself and its country a favour this time by sitting this one out.

And before the USOC considers whether to put LA forward as a candidate for 2028, those on its board who voted for Boston should take themselves off. The only fitting punishment for a misjudgement of this magnitude is resignation.

** NEIL WILSON reported his first Olympic Games in Munich in 1972. He has since covered another nine summer and nine winter Olympics for various newspapers, including The Independent and the Daily Mail with whom he has worked for the last 19 years as Athletics and Olympic correspondent. He was Britain's Sports Journalist of the Year in 1984 and is the author of seven books.

Keywords · Olympics · USOC · Boston 2024

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