Hosting Olympics Is A Risk LA Is Willing To Take

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — It’s supposed to be the greatest honor a city can receive: a chance for it to welcome the world and show off, but hosting the Olympics is increasingly being seen as an unnecessary burden. Wednesday was another example of that after Budapest withdrew its bid to host the 2024 Games amid strong opposition in Hungary. The International Olympic Committee must now decide between Paris and Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has consistently pointed to strong support in the Southland for the Games.

“We intend to win this,” Garcetti said. “There’s 88 percent support, L.A. has been able to turn a profit and will do it again.”

Meanwhile, almost six months after Rio hosted the Olympics, the legacy is crumbling. Several of the venues are abandoned and falling apart. The Olympic park is a ghost town, and the athlete village sits empty. With billions of dollars wasted and unused venues in several other Olympic cities, many countries are no longer willing to host the games.

Before Budapest dropped out, ‘Rome’ said ‘ thanks, but no thanks’ to a bid for 2024. Rome’s mayor said hosting the games would be “irresponsible” and would only cause the city to fall into more debt.

L.A. was tapped to replace Boston after the U.S. Olympic Committee faced vocal opposition and a lack of political support. In the past two decades the IOC has seen twice as many cities drop out of the bidding process as have remained.

Dr. Jules Boykoff has written books on the Olympics and says the IOC cannot disguise the fact it’s getting dangerously close to the situation it faced in the early 1980s, when the Olympics were practically an orphan with no one willing to take them in.

“You’ve seen that costs have been rising, and also there’s developed this sort of chasm between the bid and the estimates on the front end and what actually eventuates on the backside in terms of final costs,” Boykoff said.

Unlike Rio, Paris would rely on existing infrastructure for what would be its 100th anniversary of the 1924 Games. Also helping “The City of Light”  is the fact some IOC members have expressed concern about President Trump and any possible travel bans.

“They’re not keen on some of these policies that Trump is putting forth, and let’s face it: that could hurt the Los Angeles bid, whether Garcetti does everything right or not, “Boykoff said.

Garcetti says L.A. is prepared to host the Games for a third time with a budget-conscious plan that does not require building new venues.

L.A. 2024 would include four unique sports parks spread across the Southland.

Garcetti promises the games would boost the local economy by as much as $11.2 billion and create more than 74,000 full-time jobs.

“L.A. is a place where we have the infrastructure built and we’re constantly building our sports infrastructure and transportation infrastructure.”

The IOC is scheduled to choose the 2024 host city in September. The IOC may also choose the host city for the 2028 Games then, in which case, both Paris and Los Angeles could walk away winners.

More from Peter Daut
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