Have you ever asked yourself why you really love the Olympic and Paralympic Games? Because they’re the world’s greatest spectacle of sport? Because we glimpse what human athletes are capable of at their best? Or, because it’s something more ethereal, more sublime – more, human? I think we love the Games for their universal values, expressed so simply to all humanity through sport. That’s their secret; yet, it’s a precious secret that, as we are seeing in these challenging times, needs protecting and care to endure.
The Games also need cities, and in recent years, several have withdrawn from bidding for the Games because of cost concerns and dwindling public support. In response, the International Olympic Committee is considering awarding both the 2024 and 2028 Games together, to ensure that both remaining Candidate Cities are winners.
But only one city offers a sustainable solution for the future of the Olympic Movement in 2024 and beyond. That’s Los Angeles.
To thrive in the future, the Games need to be connected to it. This process must begin in September of this year when the IOC chooses the 2024 Host City because the Movement cannot wait until July 2024 to get it right.
In my city, there is an unshakeable public confidence for the Games. Even after Boston 2024 withdrew, LA’s faith in the Olympic Movement encouraged us to step forward with our city’s 10th Olympic bid – a global record. According to an independent poll by Loyola Marymount University, 88% of Angelenos support our bid a city where almost 40% of the population was born outside the US. That’s called unity, not diversity.
And crucially, 88% of LA’s 18-34-year-old population supports our bid. This is important because it was precisely this age group that led to the demise of the Budapest 2024 bid. But the IOC does not have to be concerned about young adults in LA; our city is an oasis of Olympic optimism at a time when it is greatly needed by the Movement. And, our technology and our storytellers speak to this generation every day.
But, given enough negative and challenging news, no city is forever immune from the anti-Olympic voices. LA 2024’s unique offer to the Olympic Movement – over-whelming public support, zero-risk budget, a proven Olympic legacy and unparalleled connectivity with youth around the world isn’t timeless; therefore, it must be activated now to give LA 2024 and the IOC seven years to help stabilize the Olympic world. We fear that the Olympic Movement’s current detractors will be emboldened by a choice for 2024 other than LA, because only LA offers a true example for repeatable Olympic success for future Host Cities.
As the IOC’s partner, LA 2024 will focus on the future instead of the past. This bid campaign isn’t about whether a city is capable of hosting the Games – it’s about which city is best suited to serve the future of the Olympic Movement.
The 2024/2028 strategy under consideration by the IOC is precisely the type of new thinking that the Movement needs. But, it only works if the IOC chooses the right 2024 city – the city that brings new ideas and new solutions to the Games – not more of the same. So instead of “now or never,” we think the IOC should focus on “new, or more of the same?” That city is LA; and by the way, LA 2024 is not an ultimatum, LA 2024 is an opportunity. But as in life, opportunities only exist for brief windows of time.
LA offers the Movement a “no surprises” plan that can help restore the credibility of the Games, ensure financial stability for the Olympic Movement and create new opportunities to engage with young people around the world. LA’s vision for 2024 is relevant now, and cannot wait until 2028. Those of us who love the Olympic and Paralympic Movement can’t afford more of the same.
By Casey Wasserman
Casey Wasserman is the chairman of the Los Angeles 2024 Candidature Committee.
This story first appeared in the blog, The Sport Intern. The editor is Karl-Heinz Huba of Lorsch, Germany. He can be reached at ISMG@aol.com. The article is reprinted here with permission of Huba.