International Olympic Committee (IOC) inspectors singled out the proposed Athletes’ Village site for Los Angeles 2024 at the UCLA campus for particular praise following a tour of venues on Thursday.
Bidding officials believe their plans to use an existing campus at the University of California site are a key strength in comparison with the proposal from only rival Paris to develop a multi-billion dollar site from scratch in Saint-Denis.
It was not surprising that the Village was given priority on a full day of site visits in which three separate groups of IOC Evaluation Commission inspectors were all taken to the UCLA campus.
The Commission’s chairman Patrick Baumann also praised the proposed site for the Main Media Center and Media Village at the rival University of Southern California (USC).
“These were very impressive,” he said.
“They have everything for what will be needed for the Games.
“Whether it is for the media, at USC, or the athletes, at UCLA.
“We stayed a long time there because they will be key pieces of a Games here in LA.
“I’m sure athletes will have great training, great accommodation and great food at UCLA.”
He refused to reveal, however, that the fact Los Angeles already had its Athletes’ Village in place was an advantage or not.
“I think it’s the result that counts” he said.
“Its not whether it’s there or not yet there.
“It’s not about comparing the two candidature.
“What’s important is to see that it responds to the needs of the athletes.”
Judo and wrestling are due take place at the UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion on the same Westwood Village campus.
Other venues clusters are estimated to be between a 15 and 40 minute drive away.
One of the three Commission groups visited every proposed venue today except for the rowing site at Lake Perris.
They had urged Los Angeles 2024 to refrain from organizing special elements such as groups of flag waving supporters or marching bands in order to cut costs and ensure they saw the city in its natural state.
Baumann also pointed out that they “didn’t have any particular traffic issues, for any of the three groups.”
Traffic on the roads of the city has been considered a concern for the Californian city, and insidethegames understands it had been raised as a potential challenge during meetings yesterday by several IOC Evaluation Commission members.
Both Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and bid leader Casey Wasserman claimed the day was a huge success.
“It wasn’t about greenfield sites and blueprints, but about touching and feeling,” said Wasserman.
“We met with students and the UCLA campus is certainly a compelling proposition.”
Garcetti claimed that they are fully focused and confident of victory race for 2024.
An IOC Working Group, including Turkey’s Uğur Erdener, a member of the IOC Evaluation Commission, is currently exploring bidding reforms including the possibility of awarding both the 2024 and 2028 Games this year.
“I’d love to go to Paris in 2028,” said Garcetti, reprising a joke which has become a favorite in his repetoire when asked about the debate over the awarding of both Olympics together.
“I always campaign like I’m 10 points behind so still believe we are the underdog.
“But we are gathering momentum.”
It is widely assumed the fact that an Olympic Games in Paris in 2024 would celebrate the centenary of the last occasion they were held in the French capital gives them an advantage.
Garcetti, though, refused to accept that gives Paris an advantage.
“I think LA is the emotional as well as the rational choice,” he said.
“Maybe we don’t push this hard enough, but we think Los Angeles is a romantic, passionate and warm city.”
A final day of meetings are due take place tomorrow, before the IOC panel depart for Paris.
The French capital will then be inspected from Sunday (May 14) until Tuesday (May 16).
A 2024 host is due to be elected at the IOC Session in Lima on September 13.
By Nick Butler
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.