POSTED: August 13th 2015

Olympics: USOC decides to focus on Los Angeles for 2024 Olympic bid

Los Angeles hosted the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games and has a positive legacy with the LA84 Foundation /  Bigstock
Los Angeles hosted the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games and has a positive legacy with the LA84 Foundation / Bigstock

The LA84 Foundation has given over $220 million back to support grassroots sport in the area / LA84 Foundation
The LA84 Foundation has given over $220 million back to support grassroots sport in the area / LA84 Foundation

LAURA WALDEN (USA) / Sports Features Communications

(SFC) The US Olympic Committee (USOC) has confirmed today that they are "focusing on Los Angeles" for their 2024 bid to host the Olympics and Paralympics in America. The USOC Executive Board met today at the Denver International airport and afterwards senior leaders met the press in a conference call. USOC has been in talks with San Francisco, Washington and Los Angeles to find a replacement after Boston fell out of the race two weeks ago.

Larry Probst, "This afternoon our Executive Board engaged in a very thorough and thoughtful discussion on all of our potential bid cities. We continue to believe that a US bid for the 2024 Olympics can be successful and at the end of the meeting the Board focused on a potential bid from Los Angeles."

"The Board authorized Scott Blackmun to work with Los Angeles to further explore the viability of the bid for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.  We have to finalize terms that benefit both the city of Los Angeles and the Olympic Movement in the United States so that we can submit a world class bid to the IOC by the September 15th deadline."

Scott Blackmun said, "I think the important thing to remember here is that we are on a complicated timeline but that doesn't mean that we aren't going to take the time to make sure that this works well for both partners in the partnership. Our discussions with LA today have been very, very positive but there are complicated issues in the discussions and I am very optimistic that we are going to get to a place that is good for both of us.

Blackmun clarified that September 15th is the only deadline but they would like to have a decision by the end of August but they refused to go into any details on any specific issues with a potential Los Angeles bid.

Host City Contract a Non-Issue

After the Boston 2024 bid bit the dust over Mayor Martin J. Walsh saying he would refuse to sign the Host City contract, Blackmun explained that having Los Angeles agree to sign the IOC Host City contract is a "non-issue" at this point.  He mentioned that he had talked with LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and he indicated that he understands that and it would be a serious challenge if a city wasn't going to agree to sign.

The leaders were asked how they will gauge public opinion that was also the downfall of the Boston bid and Blackmun said, "Los Angeles has already hosted a couple of times and they demonstrated their passion for the Olympic Games. We actually commissioned a poll that was done in early August a couple of weeks ago and we has strong support today at 81 percent and this was more than when we commissioned our last poll in December. It's remarkable and very encouraging that 81 percent of the people in LA support having LA host the 2024 Olympic Games. So we feel really good on the public support issue."

High Public Opinion and Political Support

"I think there absolutely will be some public dialogue and the Mayor Garcetti is very committed to that obviously that will be led by Mayor Garcetti and by Casey Wasserman. But that is not going to happen until we have made a joint decision that this is something that we want to do and we are going to take care of that between now and the end of August," he added.

Not only does the public support the Games coming to Los Angeles the local stakeholders do too. Blackmun pointed out that Los Angeles had the support of the Congressional delegation, City Council, the Governor's office, and he felt there was very strong alignment from everyone on the political side. He emphasized that they have all sent in letters of support.

The Experience

Blackmun explained that "The people of LA are very proud of their Olympic Legacy and very excited about the opportunities that the Games present. One of the interesting thing about the polling was that not only did we have 81 percent support but we didn't have very many people who opposed the Games.

"I think LA has been there and understands the tremendous upside and they are also very aware that with any big project there is risk. But they've taken a hard look at them and the calculus that they did suggests to them that the benefits far out weight the risks."

Probst added, "I think that the experience of hosting the Games in 1984 was a tremendously positive experience and a lot of people remember that fondly.

"That is a great legacy for the city and it was extremely successful financially. So all those components combined will make the majority of people think positively about hosting the Games." 

 Blackmun reiterated, "You can't underestimate the importance of the experience. They've got strong venues, they have strong public support, they have incredibly strong political support. So I think it is a combination of things that suggest that it is going to be a really positive experience for the people that come to the Games if LA is fortunate enough to win. It's not one or two things it is really so many things that makes LA's bid and the people who are leading it very appealing to us.

Probst raised the IOC's new recommendations for bidding and the plus that Los Angeles brings, "One thing that I would add is that we think they've got a venue plan that aligns with the IOC's Agenda 2020 in terms of sustainability and legacy."

Winding up Blackmun confirmed that USOC had discussed in length about all three cities San Francisco, Washington, and Los Angeles and there were even other interested cities that sent in requests to be considered.

But he said that they thought that Los Angeles gave them the best chance to win.

"It's a great opportunity, the Summer Games haven't been in the United States since 1996. There is a whole generation of Americans who haven't seen that Games on American soil. We want to address that and make sure the Games come to the United States on a regular basis given how important they are to us as a nation. We are looking at it from a standpoint of not wanting to wait another four years before bidding."

Probst wound up saying that, "I would like to accentuate the positive. I think both the USOC and the city of Los Angeles believe that this is potentially their time and we hope that we can work together with a strong partnership to make it happen."

If Los Angeles becomes the final submitted bid on September 15th they will be running against Rome, Paris, Budapest and Hamburg who have already thrown their hats in the ring as declared candidates.  

**LAURA WALDEN has over twenty-five years of experience in the Olympic Movement, formerly at the European Olympic Committees with SportEurope under former IOC President Dr. Jacques Rogge and IOC Member Mario Pescante. She worked with the Rome 2004 and Turin 2006 Olympic bids and also managed PR & media for Dr. Jacques Rogge during his campaign for the presidency.

Keywords · Olympics · Los Angeles 2024

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