LA 2024 Impresses IOC Upon Evaluation Visit, But Paris Option Still Seen As Formidable
LA 2024 last week "threw down the gauntlet" to rival bidder Paris with a plan that IOC Evaluation Commission Chair Patrick Baumann "said had no major risks and venues that he described as 'mind-blowing,'" according to Steve Keating of REUTERS. Baumann said, "Los Angeles is already a great Olympic city but after these three days we now realize that was an understatement" (REUTERS, 5/13). USA TODAY's Rachel Axon writes LA 2024’s existing venues plan "left the impression bid leaders had hoped for." That plan, one which "does not require the construction of any permanent venues, is one that they hope can help them secure the Games." Baumann: “It goes from spectacular venues to impressive venues to mind-blowing venues to incredible venues. That certainly is an incredibly positive thing" (USA TODAY, 5/15). In L.A., David Wharton writes under the header, "L.A.'s Game Plan For 2024 Olympics Wins Praise From Foreign Media." Wharton talked to a number of journalists who gave their perspective -- "good and bad -- of LA 2024 and the bid race" (L.A. TIMES, 5/15).
CHECKING ALL THE BOXES: In N.Y., Adam Nagourney noted most cities "shunned the Olympics as too expensive," but "not Los Angeles." The city, which has "enjoyed a decided economic upswing in recent years, has embraced the Games with an almost unambiguous courtship." Nagourney: "In truth, Los Angeles may be the last American city where an Olympics could work." The support for the Games within the city is "broad." But Olympic historian and author David Wallechinsky said, “I think that Paris gets the nod in 2024 and L.A. in 2028.” Wallechinsky also said that President Trump taking office "does not help" L.A.'s chances in '24. Wallenchinksy: "That's very clear" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/13).
LACK OF TRANSPARENCY? The L.A. TIMES' Wharton noted the city "took a big step forward last week," as the evaluation by all accounts "went swimmingly." But as the IOC visits Paris this week, it still "felt like an opportunity had slipped through the cracks." The Olympic movement "could have used its time in Southern California to generate some more goodwill and maybe a few more positive headlines." Instead, evaluators "met behind closed doors, shutting out the public." During tours of L.A., they were "kept separate from journalists and, when the groups wandered too close, officials scrambled to herd them in opposite directions." It "felt secretive -- certainly not the sort of thing the IOC needs in an era of doping scandals, corruption investigations and lingering concerns about the billions of dollars required to stage the Games." Baumann said, "We are in a competitive environment right now. I mean, people in Paris would have been extremely happy to listen to those [proposal] conversations.” But there were "other moments that could have -- and should have -- been more transparent" (L.A. TIMES 5/14).
HERE & NOW: USA TODAY's Axon noted the possibility of the IOC awarding both the '24 and '28 Games this September "hung as a specter around the commission’s visit" to L.A. City organizers "weren’t so much making the case that their bid is worthy of the Games -- a consensus is clear that both bids are -- but that it deserves to have the 2024 Olympics it is bidding for." Putting L.A. off would be to "miss the opportunity for a transformative moment, one LA 2024 organizers think they can deliver in part by avoiding the runaway construction costs that have come to define Games of late" (USA TODAY, 5/13).
HOW DID WE GET HERE? 3 WIRE SPORTS' Alan Abrahamson wrote, "L.A. is the answer the IOC needs, and now. The question, obviously, is how did the IOC get into the fix it’s in where it only has two cities in the entire world willing to bid on its franchise?" The IOC now has a "grave credibility problem." Issues in the past included "security and boycotts." Abrahamson: "Now? Taxpayers and officials, and particularly in western Europe, the IOC’s longtime base, rightfully believe the Games, and particularly the infrastructure projects tied to recent Olympics, cost way too much. Like billions too much." Is it the IOC's "fault" for "not explaining Olympic finance?" Abrahamson: "This is a communications problem." If the IOC "goes to Paris" for '24, it "all but guarantees itself seven years of construction woes, cost overruns, bad press and further brand damage" (3WIRESPORTS.com, 5/12).