FI­NAL STRETCH

IOC head to LA as fight for stag­ing rights heats up

New Straits Times - - Sport -

an ultimatum, but main­tained the city re­mained fo­cused only on 2024.

“No one’s a can­di­date for 2028. I think that’s a hy­po­thet­i­cal and it’s not worth dis­cussing,” Wasserman said in a re­cent in­ter­view.

The re­fusal of Los An­ge­les and Paris to blink first over 2028 raises the stakes for the vis­its of the IOC eval­u­a­tion com­mis­sion to both cities.

Los An­ge­les 2024 of­fi­cials will spend this week aim­ing to demon­strate to visiting IOC del­e­gates, who ar­rive to­day, why the gleam­ing Cal­i­for­nian me­trop­o­lis is the right city at the right time.

Front and cen­tre of the city’s bid is the fact that a 2024 Games in Los An­ge­les would re­quire no new venue con­struc­tion, with events held in an ar­ray of ex­ist­ing are­nas or sta­di­ums that are al­ready un­der con­struc­tion.

The his­toric Los An­ge­les Me­mo­rial Coli­seum — the cen­tre­piece of the 1932 and 1984 Olympics — will once again fea­ture promi­nently, re­vived by a multi-mil­lion-dol­lar makeover that is al­ready un­der way.

The Coli­seum will fea­ture in an in­no­va­tive open­ing cer­e­mony shared with the glit­ter­ing US$2.4 bil­lion (RM10.8 bil­lion) sta­dium be­ing built on Hol­ly­wood Park as the home of the Na­tional Foot­ball League’s Los An­ge­les Rams, due to open in 2019.

The Olympic ath­letes vil­lage — of­ten a big-ticket con­struc­tion project in the past — will be based on re­cently ren­o­vated fa­cil­i­ties on the leafy cam­pus of UCLA, which is presently home to some 14,000 stu­dents.

“You can come to LA and sleep in one of the rooms to­mor­row if you want,” Wasserman told jour­nal­ists at a re­cent round-ta­ble brief­ing, in which he spoke of a “very clear line in the sand” be­tween Los An­ge­les and Paris.

“Los An­ge­les is a bid that can uniquely con­nect the Olympic Games with the fu­ture,” he said.

“And the rea­son we can say that and the rea­son we can ab­so­lutely do that is be­cause we’ve got uni­ver­sal public sup­port and we’ve got all of our fa­cil­i­ties that ex­ist to­day.

“And if you take those two things, as risks, off the ta­ble, what you can ac­tu­ally do is fo­cus on serv­ing the Olympic move­ment for seven years. No other city can say that.”

One po­ten­tial hur­dle for LA 2024 of­fi­cials to over­come this week as they seek to im­press IOC of­fi­cials is the age-old prob­lem of traf­fic con­ges­tion, a peren­nial com­plaint amongst of­ten-grid­locked An­ge­lenos.

Wasserman is adamant, how­ever, that there will be no rig­ging of traf­fic lights to ease the pas­sage of the IOC del­e­ga­tion as it tra­verses the city this week.

“That’s against the rules,” he said. “We’re not try­ing to show them a fake ver­sion of what LA is — we’re try­ing to show them ex­actly what LA is, and ex­actly the LA they will get.”

Los An­ge­les 2024 of­fi­cials also point to the US$88 bil­lion of ex­panded sub­way, light rail, bus and ex­press lane projects that will be op­er­a­tional by 2024, an in­vest­ment Wasserman de­scribed as “the largest on­go­ing trans­porta­tion and in­fras­truc­ture project in Amer­i­can his­tory.”

Wasserman be­lieves, too, that the city’s no­to­ri­ous traf­fic con­ges­tion is­sues are over­stated in the con­text of an Olympic fort­night.

“Ask any­body from LA what their best mem­ory was of the 1984 Games and they’ll say there was no traf­fic,” he said.

“Be­cause as a city we ral­lied around that op­por­tu­nity. An­ge­lenos rose to the oc­ca­sion.” AFP

REUTERS PIC

The his­toric Los An­ge­les Me­mo­rial Coli­seum — the cen­tre­piece of the 1932 and 1984 Olympics — is be­ing re­vived by a multi-mil­lion-dol­lar makeover that is un­der way.

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