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