Los Angeles Olympics on the Way, Just a Matter of When

Los Angeles is vying with Budapest and Paris to host the Summer Olympics in 2024, having held them twice before
AFP/File MARK RALSTON

The Summer Olympics appear to be returning to Los Angeles for a third time–the only question is whether it’ll be in 2024 or 2028–according to a published report.

The Wall Street Journal, citing sources close to the International Olympic Committee, reported that a deal is in the works to award the 2024 Summer Games to Paris and the 2028 Games to L.A. The IOC was expected to vote on the host of the 2024 Olympics in September, but an agreement, dubbed the “24/28 deal,” could be reached as soon as this week at the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.

According to Matthew Futterman of the Journal:

People involved with the process say the principals on all three sides of the negotiations have agreed in broad strokes to a solution that IOC President Thomas Bach has been pushing the parties toward over the past year.

For the IOC, the deal would lock up two of the world’s leading cities to host coming Summer Games after a tumultuous 2016 in Rio de Janeiro forced the organization to rethink its commitment to holding the event in developing countries. Some major international cities have also shied away from hosting Olympics because they are expensive and thus politically unpopular.

It would behoove the IOC to get this deal done after the disaster in Rio, as well as the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, that ran up the cost to a reported $50 billion. As a result, there is little appetite for the world’s leading cities to host future Games. Paris and L.A. are the only cities to bid on the 2024 Olympics; and Beijing beat out its only competition–Almaty, Kazakhstan–for the right to host the 2022 Winter Games.

The feasibility of the “24/28 deal” mostly will depend on whether the L.A. organizers are willing to wait an additional four years to host the Games, since Paris has indicated that “focusing on 2024 has become something of a necessity because key elements of the bid may not be available four years later.” According to the Journal, “Ironically, those weaknesses seem to have helped Paris’s cause. For example, the Paris bid relies on billions in public funding that could disappear if it does not win the Games for 2024.”

Los Angeles, which also staged the Games in 1932 and 1984, has no such concerns. Unlike most Olympic host cities, L.A. needs to build virtually no facilities for the Games. In addition to all the existing facilities, including the L.A. Memorial Coliseum that is slated to be the first stadium to host three Olympics, Los Angeles should have two additional venues in the new Rams NFL stadium and LAFC soccer stadium by no later than 2020.

Though for the time being the L.A. organizers insist that their sole goal is to get the Games in 2024, the IOC is desperate for L.A. to host the Games simply because it has no assurance that anyone would bid on the 2028 event. Besides, the 1984 L.A. Summer Olympics remain the gold standard for hosting, when the Peter Ueberroth-run Games netted $232 million in profits ($550 million in 2017 dollars) that continue to fund community sports projects to this day.

L.A. landed the 1984 Games in similar fashion, with the IOC having trouble finding a host after massive cost overruns for the 1976 Montreal Olympics scared off other candidate cities. L.A.’s bid was virtually unopposed as Ueberroth and his group were able to extract considerable concessions from the IOC to make the Games profitable.

If Los Angeles is willing to wait 11 years – instead of seven – for another go at the Summer Games, then the Olympics will be coming back to American soil for the first time since Atlanta 1996 (summer) and Salt Lake City 2002 (winter).

Follow Samuel Chi on Twitter @ThePlayoffGuru.

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