SBD/June 8, 2017/Olympics

LA 2024 Chair Wasserman Changes Tune, Indicates Willingness To Host '28 Games

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Wasserman said LA 2024 was never only focused on hosting the '24 Games
LA 2024 Chair Casey Wasserman yesterday issued a statement indicating a willingness to host the '28 Games instead of '24, two days before the IOC Exec Board meets to formally propose awarding both years’ Games simultaneously. Wasserman wrote, “To be blunt, LA 2024 has never been only about LA or 2024. Even when the issue of a dual award for the 2024 and 2028 Games was initially raised, we didn’t say it’s ‘LA first’ or it’s ‘now or never’ for LA: that sounds like an ultimatum. We could have used that strategy, but we didn't because we thought it was presumptuous to tell the IOC what to do and how to think. We’re better partners than that.” Wasserman was trying to frame L.A. as the more accommodating partner for the IOC, in contrast to rival Paris. But many Olympic observers interpreted his remarks as fresh proof that L.A. is prepared to accept defeat on '24. Inside the Games, a British trade publication, reported that LA '24 “effectively conceded” the race yesterday. LA '24 declined to comment on the website’s characterization, but multiple sources said that the bid group has not abandoned hopes for winning '24 and continues to campaign.

PLAN BEING HATCHED: For months, conventional wisdom has held that Paris enjoyed a slight but not insurmountable edge over L.A. among IOC voters for '24, and neither Paris nor L.A. would acknowledge anything other than a desire to win '24. However, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti confirmed May 31 that he had begun talks with the IOC about conditions under which L.A. would agree to wait, and the Wall Street Journal reported that such a plan was already being hatched. Furthermore, sources said that President Trump’s belittling of London Mayor Sadiq Khan, his decision to pull out of the Paris climate accords and his behavior at the recent NATO meeting have damaged L.A.’s hopes of a comeback among the European-dominated IOC. The IOC is expected to put forth a plan to award both the '24 and '28 Games to Paris and L.A. tomorrow, then seek a full membership vote on the plan in July, with a vote on the all-important order coming in September (Ben Fischer, Staff Writer). 

THE TRUMP EFFECT: In London, Martyn Ziegler notes many IOC members have been "leaning towards" Paris for '24 in the "knowledge that President Trump will not be in the White House" by '28. Trump's executive travel order, which "temporarily bans people from seven mainly Muslim countries" from entering the U.S., has "not gone down well with some of the 95 voting IOC members." One member said, "It seems that every time Trump opens his mouth it is another vote for Paris" (LONDON TIMES, 6/8). In L.A., David Wharton notes there are "several ways" to look at Wasserman's comments. For much of its campaign, LA 2024 has "sought to play the role of the good guy, distancing itself from the arrogant 'ugly American' tag hung on previous unsuccessful U.S. bids." This stance "becomes even more relevant" at a time when Trump has "rankled leaders around the world." Yesterday's statement "continued LA 2024’s strategy while also serving as a thinly veiled dig at Paris, which has repeatedly pushed back against the idea" of accepting '28. But "none of that diminishes that Wasserman clearly signaled a willingness to cooperate with the potential two-winner arrangement." The timing "is significant" (L.A. TIMES, 6/8). 
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