‘Why wait for 2028 when LA venues are ready and shin­ing?’

New Straits Times - - Sport -

LOS AN­GE­LES: Los An­ge­les 2024 bid lead­ers re­buffed sug­ges­tions they were ready to wait un­til 2028 to host the Olympics on Thurs­day as a team of In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee del­e­gates toured pro­posed venues.

The sec­ond day of the IOC Eval­u­a­tion Com­mis­sion’s visit to the Cal­i­for­nian me­trop­o­lis saw iconic venues from across Los An­ge­les’s sport­ing sky­line take cen­tre stage.

IOC del­e­gates will head to ri­val bid­der Paris next week for a sim­i­lar mission be­fore re­leas­ing their as­sess­ments of the trips later this year.

This week’s trip to Los An­ge­les comes amid a back­drop of in­trigue sur­round­ing the Sept 13 vote in Lima that will de­cide the win­ner, with the IOC ac­tively study­ing a pro­posal to of­fer the 2028 host­ing rights to the los­ing bid.

Nei­ther Paris nor Los An­ge­les has in­di­cated a will­ing­ness to ac­cept 2028 as an al­ter­na­tive, and Los An­ge­les mayor Eric Garcetti said on Thurs­day there was no soft­en­ing of the city’s po­si­tion.

“We be­lieve LA of­fers the great­est ben­e­fit to the Olympic move­ment in 2024 — why wait un­til 2028 to ex­pe­ri­ence that?” Garcetti said at a sun­set press con­fer­ence at Santa Monica beach.

“I’d love to go to Paris in 2028 to see my friends there — it will be a great Olympics.”

Garcetti’s re­marks came af­ter a day in which IOC del­e­gates were shown a range of ex­ist­ing venues likely to host Olympic sport, from the fa­mous Sta­ples Cen­tre Arena to the Los An­ge­les Me­mo­rial Coli­seum, the his­toric cen­tre­piece of the 1932 and 1984 Olympics also held in the city.

The Coli­seum would once again host ath­let­ics, the premier event of the Games, and US track and field star Allyson Felix was on hand to greet del­e­gates.

“Even though I wasn’t born at the time of the ‘84 games, I grew up hear­ing sto­ries from my par­ents, coaches, other ath­letes just how in­cred­i­ble it was,” Allyson said.

“That his­tory is here and we want to re­peat that and have it again,” added Allyson, the only fe­male track and field ath­lete in Olympic his­tory to win six gold medals.

Allyson’s tes­ti­mony made an im­pres­sion on the IOC’s Eval­u­a­tion Com­mis­sion chair­man Pa­trick Bau­mann

“What struck me is how many of the ath­letes we met had a con­nec­tion with the LA 1984 Games ei­ther be­cause they com­peted in it, or be­cause they at­tended them. Even Allyson Felix, born in 1985 cited the Games as a source of in­spi­ra­tion — it was mag­nif­i­cent to hear that from such a great ath­lete,” Bau­mann told re­porters.

The Coli­seum, which is the tem­po­rary home of the Los An­ge­les Rams NFL team, was re­cently ap­proved for a US$270 mil­lion (RM1.2 bil­lion) pri­vate­ly­funded facelift, which is due to be com­pleted in 2019.

It is one of an ar­ray of ex­ist­ing venues that form the LA 2024 bid, which will re­quire zero con­struc­tion of fa­cil­i­ties, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials.

Olympic of­fi­cials were also shown around the leafy cam­pus of UCLA, the pro­posed site for the Olympic vil­lage, and the Univer­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia near down­town Los An­ge­les.

“That was very im­pres­sive — these two beau­ti­ful cam­puses. They have ev­ery­thing, we stayed a long time there, they will be key pieces, the ath­letes will have great train­ing fa­cil­i­ties, ac­com­mo­da­tion and food,” Bau­mann said.

Los An­ge­les of­fi­cials hope the ready-made ath­letes vil­lage on the UCLA cam­pus — re­mov­ing the need for what is of­ten a hugely ex­pen­sive Olympic con­struc­tion project — could prove a trump card. Ri­val Paris is to build an ath­lete’s vil­lage from scratch. AFP

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