POSTED: January 25th 2017

Casey Wasserman: LA 2024's strength is in its geography

View of the city of Los Angeles from the Griffith Observatory © SFC
View of the city of Los Angeles from the Griffith Observatory © SFC

LA 2024 Olympic bid chief Casey Wasserman © SFC
LA 2024 Olympic bid chief Casey Wasserman © SFC

Iconic Santa Monica Pier and ferris wheel © SFC
Iconic Santa Monica Pier and ferris wheel © SFC

LAURA WALDEN (USA) / Sports Features Communications

(SFC) Los Angeles (LA) is not just a huge sprawling metroplex, the city offers a rich tapestry of mountains, deserts, beaches and islands which is a pretty big package for any city hoping to invite the world to its playground.

Recently had a chance to sit down with LA 2024 bid chief Casey Wasserman and he thinks this is one of the highlights of the City of Angels' Olympic bid. Speaking from the perspective of a true LA native, he has an excellent point.

Not only can LA offer world class venues, elite level sports event management, an entertainment industry that is known all over the globe but it also has a plethora of areas to explore that are feasible in a day's travel.  

"I think one of the unsung heroes of LA is its geography," said Wasserman. "There is not a big city in the world, and I travel all over the world, that has the greenery and mountains and the beauty and the outdoor activities of LA. That has the culture and the life and the entertainment that sort of lives in the city and equal distance is a beach and ocean, which are as beautiful as anywhere in the world. So all of a sudden, people don't have a complete picture of all that LA has to offer and I think it's the quality of life and the quality of a venue that LA provides people is pretty staggering. That to me, less about a neighborhood and more about what LA really is beyond the outside perception or the photograph of the Hollywood sign."

The LA native doesn't take his bid leadership responsibility lightly, and has game changing memories from when the last Olympics were hosted here.  

"Well, certainly, 1984 was a magical moment in the city," he recalled. "My grandfather (Lew Wasserman) was intimately involved, so I have the fortune of going to a bunch of events. I got to run in the torch relay. It was a really magical time and you couldn't have been a kid in the city, whether you were at events or not and not been touched by all that happened. It was special and extraordinary. I think that is why you know that 88% Angelenos support hosting the Games in 2024, because 1984 was such a special time and such a great success. It inspired me, certainly my love for the Olympics, no question, inspired or furthered my love of sport. I already loved sport, obviously, it sort of broadened that in a meaningful way and it's one of those times that, you know, if you were here you will never forget."  

But he never guessed he would be the one on the front line running a bid to bring the Games back to LA. He said, "Wow, it would be ludicrous to say that if I thought that in 1984. No, I mean I was obviously honored to have the Mayor ask me to do this and thrilled at the opportunity. But certainly not something you imagine could possibly happen, just given the way life works. It would be impossible to predict that."

And he plans to see the whole plan all the way through should LA win the IOC nod to host the Games, "Absolutely. I gave my commitment to the Mayor that I would stay with this process either till someone tells us the process is over and we are not the winner and if we are the winner until we have created a successful Olympic and Paralympic Games. Hopefully, created a meaningful financial legacy and make sure it's in the right hands. At that time, so my commitment is as long there is Olympic work to do I will stay committed." 

Wasserman's Olympic aspirations have also been embraced by his successful music producer wife Laura and daughter Stella who both are passionate equestrians. They share a love for horses and are involved in show jumping and asked if they would like to be involved with the equestrian events should LA get the IOC vote.

The LA bid chief's face lit up as he replied, "I don't know about managing the equestrian, my daughter has her heart set on competing in the Olympics, whether it's 2024 or beyond. She is only 11 today, so, but she has her heart set on competing in the Olympics. So, obviously, that is her goal regardless where the Games are. 

"I couldn't imagine anything more spectacular then to have the Games in LA and her compete here, but first things first," he cautiously noted.

Right now Wasserman is keeping his eye on the target preparing for the finish line when the IOC will choose a host city for 2024 and he has stiff competition. Paris is running to nab a Centenary Games revival since it last hosted in 1924 and Budapest wants to win its first opportunity. September 13th is the vote in Lima, Peru and after three editions in Asia (PyeongChang 2018, Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022) we will see if the IOC choses to return to North America or to Europe.

**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 · Casey Wasserman · LA 2024

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