Los Angeles Saves USOC from Another Olympic-sized Embarrassment

 

At some point, U.S. Olympic Committee leaders ought to send the folks in Boston a thank-you note.

Instead of trying to sell the International Olympic Committee on a city that wanted no part of the 2024 Summer Games, the USOC got the dumb luck to wind up with Los Angeles. And when we’re talking about the fiasco of this bid city process, dumb is putting it nicely.

Los Angeles was the best choice all along, a city that not only knows what it takes to pull off an Olympics but also is eager for the opportunity to do so. In announcing L.A.’s bid for the 2024 Games on Tuesday, the USOC gave itself a fighting chance to bring the Olympics back to American soil for the first time in two decades rather than setting itself up for another dose of international humiliation.

“We definitely feel fortunate,” USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said after Los Angeles threw an impromptu, star-studded party on the Santa Monica beach to celebrate its official entry into the 2024 race.

“Because Los Angeles has hosted before and because of its incredible enthusiasm for the Games, evidenced by 81% approval in a (recent) poll, this was really an option we could move forward with quickly, and we could not be more grateful or happy with the outcome,” Blackmun said. “It’s a really good partnership, a strong bid, and we’re excited to have this.”

Which begs the question of why the USOC ever thought Boston was a good idea.

The embarrassing and early exits of New York and Chicago in bidding for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics showed that not only did the USOC need to repair its dysfunctional relationship with the IOC, its bids also had to be rock solid. There could be no question marks, no fuzzy math and absolutely no doubts about what kind of reception the Games would get.

Boston had all three. Yet the USOC picked it anyway, figuring whatever problems the bid had would magically disappear.

They didn’t. Quite the contrary.

At least the Boston dumpster fire was put out before it reached the IOC, and Los Angeles was there to bail out the USOC.

It’s fitting, really, given that L.A. has come to the Olympic movement’s rescue before.

In the early 1980s, no one wanted the Olympics. Costs were too high and host cities didn’t make money. Sound familiar? But Los Angeles, backed by public, business and political support, staged what is still considered the most financially successful Games ever in 1984.

The 2024 organizers don’t plan to stray far from that model, projecting a $161 million surplus. That’s largely because 85% of LA 2024’s venues are already built or planned, Games or no Games.

The Coliseum would be used for the the opening and closing ceremony, as well as track and field. Staples Center would host basketball, gymnastics and trampoline.Hollywood Boulevard would be the setting for the marathon and road cycling. Griffith Park would have mountain biking and BMX.

Santa Monica’s beach would have beach volleyball, triathlon and open-water swimming, not to mention providing the L.A. Games with its picture-postcard signature setting.

Of the major sports, only swimming still needs a venue, and organizers have said they would build a temporary pool complex.

“The cornerstone venues are really the cornerstone venues,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said.

As for the transportation projects that are traditionally among the Olympics’ biggest costs, Garcetti pointed to an expansion of Los Angeles International Airport and the addition of five train lines that are already underway.

“Not because of the Games, but the Games will benefit from them,” he said.

There is no guarantee the 2024 Olympics will wind up in Los Angeles. Paris, a sentimental favorite for what would be the 100th anniversary of its 1924 Olympics, and Rome have announced bids. Toronto and Doha, Qatar, are considering them.

But Los Angeles presents an attractive, economical and enthusiastic candidate. That’s far more than could ever have been said about Boston.

“We did not take the most direct route to get here today, and we’ll be the first to admit that,” Blackmun said. “But we’re beyond thrilled with the results, beyond thrilled with the level of cooperation we’ve gotten from the city of Los Angeles.”

And beyond thrilled that Boston saved them from themselves.

This article was republished with permission from the original author, Nancy Armour, and the original publisher, USA Today.

 

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