By Steve Keating
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Los Angeles 2024 made a final pitch to the International Olympic Committee’s Evaluation Commission on Friday and now will wait and see if they hit a home run to win the right to host the Summer Games for a third time.
Paris, the only other city in the running for the 2024 Olympics, will get their chance to showcase their bid next week but LA threw down the gauntlet to the French capital with a plan that commission leader Patrick Baumann said had no major risks and venues that he gushed as “mind-blowing”.
“Los Angeles is already a great Olympic city but after these three days we now realize that was an understatement,” Baumann told reporters. “This visit has certainly confirmed our opinion that Los Angeles has developed an excellent proposal.
“Their vision and concept have embraced the direction provided by the Olympic Agenda 2020 with the extensive use of existing facilities in particular.
“It goes from spectacular venues, to impressive venues to mind-blowing venues.
“It was very positive because we were able to see them.”
The Evaluation commission was treated to the full LA experience during a whirlwind visit that included a glitzy, celebrity packed party at the home of Los Angeles bid chief Casey Wasserman, playing some basketball at the Staples Center and hitting the Santa Monica beach along with a tour of the Memorial Coliseum that anchored the 1932 and 1984 Summer Games and will be a centerpiece again should LA get the 2024 Olympics.
There was no need for commission members to close their eyes and imagine what a 2024 Los Angeles Olympics might look like with the bid built around already existing world class facilities.
In fact, the LA proposal that is budgeted for a modest $5.3 billion, calls for no new venue construction.
The plan, which the commission termed “well-developed”, ticks many of the boxes on the IOC’s revolutionary Agenda 2020 which was developed to modernize the way the Olympics does business.
The bid, however, was not without a few thorny issues, including concerns over President Donald Trump’s proposed travel restrictions on some nations, which could prevent Olympic athletes from gaining entry and competing in the United States.
A city that is as famous for its gridlock as for sun and surf, the commission also got a first-hand look at LA’s notorious freeway system.
“There is still some work to be done, not everything can happen overnight but we think there are excellent bases here,” said Baumann, whose commission will present their report to the public and IOC members in July.
LA2024 and Paris will have two more major opportunities to showcase their bids when they make presentations to the IOC at the Lausanne headquarters in July followed by the all-important final presentation at a Congress in Lima, Peru ahead of the Sept. 13 vote.
Adding intrigue to the bidding process is the possibility of the IOC awarding the 2024 and 2028 Summer Games in Lima.
Both bids have insisted they are interested only in the 2024 Games but Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti has refused to shut the door on taking on the 2028 Olympics should Paris come out on top for 2024.
“Any city would have to look at the terms if the rules change, what a 2028 award means,” said Garcetti. “We’ll listen if the rules change.
“But I’d love to go to Paris in 2028 and see my friends; I think it would be great Olympics.”
(Editing by Ken Ferris)