Los Angeles reaches agreement to host 2028 Summer Olympics
Council expected to review deal this week; Paris seen as favourite for 2024 Games
Los Angeles has reached an agreement with International Olympic leaders that will open the way for the city to host the 2028 Summer Games, while ceding the 2024 Games to rival Paris, officials announced Monday.
The deal would make LA a three-time Olympic city, after hosting the 1932 and 1984 Games.
With the agreement, the city is taking "a major step toward bringing the Games back to our city for the first time in a generation," Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement.
He called it a "historic day for Los Angeles, for the United States" and the Olympic movement.
The agreement follows a vote earlier this month by the International Olympic Committee to seek an unusual deal to award the 2024 and 2028 Games simultaneously. Paris is the only city left to host the 2024 Games.
Paris expected to get 2024 Games
The Los Angeles City Council and U.S. Olympic Committee board of directors will consider the agreement in August. If approved, the IOC, LA and Paris could enter a three-part agreement, clearing the way for the IOC to award the 2024 Games to Paris, and the 2028 Games to LA. The IOC vote is scheduled for September, in Lima, Peru.
In a statement, the Paris bid committee welcomed the announcement in Los Angeles but stopped short of confirming the obvious, that Paris is in line for the 2024 Games.
"Paris 2024 is proud to be working together with the IOC and our friends in Los Angeles to reach a positive solution for both cities, the Games and the whole Olympic Movement for 2024 and 2028," committee co-chair Tony Estanguet said.
In embracing what amounted to the second-place prize and an 11-year wait, LA will receive a financial sweetener.
Under the terms of the deal, the IOC will advance funds to the Los Angeles organizing committee to recognize the extended planning period and to increase youth sports programs leading up to the Games. The IOC contribution could exceed $2 billion, according to LA officials. That figure takes into account the estimated value of existing sponsor agreements that would be renewed, as well as potential new marketing deals.
The delay to 2028 opens a host of questions for Los Angeles, which is looking at the prospect of retooling its multibillion-dollar plans for more than a decade into the future. It would face challenges from maintaining public interest to recasting deals for stadiums, arenas and housing that have been in the works for months and even years.
'Too good to pass up'
Speaking with reporters at a soccer stadium in Carson, just outside LA, Garcetti said the 2028 proposal was the better of the two, promising to bring hundreds of millions of dollars in additional benefits.
The deal "was too good to pass up," the mayor said.
He also suggested the IOC would easily ratify the 2024-2028 deal in September.
LA and Paris were the last two bids remaining after a tumultuous process that exposed the unwillingness of cities to bear the financial burden of hosting an event that has become synonymous with cost overruns.
LA was not even the first American entrant in the contest. Boston withdrew two years ago as public support for its bid collapsed over concerns about use of taxpayer cash. The U.S. bid switched from the east to the West Coast as LA entered the race.
But the same apprehensions that spooked politicians and the local population in Boston soon became evident in Europe where three cities pulled out.
Uncomfortably for IOC president Thomas Bach, whose much-vaunted Agenda 2020 reforms were designed to make hosting more streamlined and less costly after the lavish 2014 Sochi Games, the first withdrawal came from his homeland of Germany.
Cities pulled out of bidding
The lack of political unity for a bid in Hamburg was mirrored in Rome and Budapest as support for bids waned among local authorities and the population. It was clear they did not want to be saddled with skyrocketing bills for hosting the Olympics without reaping many of the economic benefits anticipated.
Just like in the depleted field for the 2022 Winter Games which saw Beijing defeat Almaty, the IOC was left with only two candidates again.
With two powerful cities left vying for 2024, Bach realized France or the U.S. could be deterred from going through another contest for 2028 if they lost. Bach floated the idea in December of making revisions to the bidding process to prevent it producing "too many losers," building support that led to LA and Paris being able to figure out themselves how to share the 2024 and 2028 Games.
The dual award of the games relieves the IOC of having to test the global interest in hosting the Summer Olympics for several years until the 2032 Games are up for grabs.
Los Angeles city council president Herb Wesson called the agreement a "win-win-win scenario."
The opportunity to host the Games "is a golden occasion further strengthening Los Angeles — not just through bricks and mortar, but through new opportunities for our communities to watch, play and benefit from sport," Wesson said.
With files from Reuters