POSTED: August 26th 2015

NEIL WILSON: LA ready to take the big step towards the 2024 Olympics

The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum home to the 1932 and 1984 Games / Bigstock
The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum home to the 1932 and 1984 Games / Bigstock

The LA 84 Foundation has been giving back to Southern California for 31 years / LA 84 Foundation
The LA 84 Foundation has been giving back to Southern California for 31 years / LA 84 Foundation

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

 (SFC) Los Angeles's politicians are expected next week to take the final step to a bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games by endorsing its Mayor's wish to put the city forward to the IOC.

Their blessing is necessary but in essence its city council's vote may be only a matter of rubber-stamping the bid document released a day earlier which spelt out the precise financial budget for organising a Games nine years hence.

 The politicos have delayed their vote, setting up an Ad-Hoc Committee to give the bid document and the Host City Agreement greater scrutiny, but the citizens of the City of Angeles are behind a bid so their representatives will likely fall into line with their wishes.

What their close scrutiny will discover is a bidding group's plan which could be a blueprint for IOC president Thomas Bach's Agenda 2020, the new defining creed of the IOC.  Little need to build afresh, most venues already existing or proposed for construction whether or not the Games come to town, and full use tol be made of temporary structures. That is what the IOC wants to hear.

One detail though stands out from the rival bids and probably from every bid made in modern times. While others set their sights on balancing the books, Los Angeles project a surplus. And not a small one but $161 million.

Coming from any other applicant city it might be dismissed as naivety or unrealistic bombast. This city though has form. It is still dispensing each year to the youth of Southern California grants derived from the interest on the huge surplus it made on the 1984 Olympic Games.

Minimalistic expenditure and construction, maximum use of existing and temporary venues - that is the formula that worked in 1984 and gives the city the credibility for its offer to do it again in 2024.

Why the USOC ever looked anywhere else for an American host is beyond me and may prove only that the USOC is not an organisation as in touch with IOC current thinking that it believes itself to be. Still, after a false start, it may have got it right at the second attempt.

Have no doubt this contest will come to be a tale of two cities, a straight fight between Old World and New, between cities who have hosted twice before - Paris v. Los Angeles.

Hamburg will meet the IOC's deadline of September 15 to apply but has a referendum planned for November 24 before it can commit finally. Toronto  will probably view LA's bid as a good reason not to go forward. Baku is still only a possibility.

So those who come to their blocks may be a shorter list than at present, if not a short list. But whoever is there still for the vote in 2017, whether Budapest or Rome or even Baku, the front runners will be French and Californian, wine countries with long Olympic vintages.

Paris has a romantic side to its bid. In 2024 it will be 130 years since the IOC was formed in its university building and the centennial of its last and second Games, the one famed for the Oscar-winning movie Chariots of Fire. But the IOC membership is not renowned for sentimentality.

 They did not vote for Athens in 1996 to celebrate the century since the first Games in 1996 but instead took a hard-headed commercial decision to go to Atlanta. Nor did they celebrate the start of the new Millennium in 2000 by choosing the 21st century's rising power of China.

LA, in contrast, will be the commercial banker, founded on blue-chip corporate giants and US television. And there will be a good few voters in 2017 who will remember the debt the Olympic movement owes to the Californian city that changed its fortunes in its darkest  hours in 1984.

So if you want to place a bet now on a winner, profit from history. Follow the money. LA by a nose. All it needs is the nod from its politicians.

** 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 · LA 2024 · Neil Wilson

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