Six reasons to worry
Open questions about L.A.’s 2028 Olympic bid
Mayor Eric Garcetti and the L.A. 2028 Olympic bid committee are in a tremendous hurry to pass the new Host City Contract that they negotiated privately with the International Olympic Committee last month through the City Council. They’ve hosted zero public community gatherings to specifically discuss the 2028 bid — unless you count one-minute comments at Friday’s ad hoc council meeting — but they want you to think that previous deliberations about the 2024 bid should suffice. They don’t.
Make no mistake: L.A. lost the 2024 bid to Paris and took the 2028 option, rebranding and pivoting to 2028 as a win instead of a last resort. The L.A. bid committee finished second in a race of two. This is not a triumph for anyone. The IOC is attempting to award two Summer Olympics simultaneously out of fear that the Olympic brand is broken and that there won’t be multiple (or any) cities vying for 2028, which would be embarrassing.
Unfortunately for the residents of Los Angeles, City Council members and Garcetti don’t think it’s necessary to vet the 2028 Host City Contract properly via independent entities, including conducting financial studies as they did with the 2024 bid proposal. These outside bodies would and should calculate the risk of committing to an Olympics 11 years away from all possible angles.
There are many crucial questions that remain unanswered. Here are the most pressing:
How will 2028 affect immigrant communities? The 2024 proposal designated the Games as a National Special Security Event, which the bid committee and mayor promoted as a cost-saving measure, since it offloads security costs to federal taxpayers. They did not focus on the fact that the special security event designation gives the Department of Homeland Security (which includes Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and other federal law enforcement agencies joint jurisdiction over roughly 700 square miles of Southern California. Nothing in the Host City Contract or previous bid proposal determines when this jurisdiction and cooperation with local law enforcement agencies will begin. But for a city that has an enormous immigrant population, both documented and not, this is a terrifying proposition.
Given the taxpayer guaranty in the HCC, which demands that Los Angeles and California cover any cost overruns from the Games, altering or removing the special security event designation would almost certainly devastate our city and state budget.
Pitting the safety of our immigrant residents and families against all our other civic resources is an unfair conflict that no one from the City Council or the bid committee has even attempted to resolve.
How much will the Olympics exacerbate homelessness and contribute to our affordable housing shortage?
Earlier this year, our homeless population exploded by 23%. Previous Olympics have accelerated displacement and homelessness. Are there any safeguards in place to make sure that doesn’t happen here? (No, there are not.)
How can anyone claim full confidence in the Games’ financial success without a budget?
The bid committee doesn’t plan on submitting a budget for 2028 until 2019, two years after the City Council signs a binding agreement. This is financial brinkmanship at its ugliest. Tokyo, which will host the Summer 2020 Games, is already roughly $8 billion over budget, nearly twice its original estimate, and its Games are still three years away. 4 How much will the Olympics increase police militarization? Previous modern Olympics, including the L.A. Olympics in 1984, led to huge rises in unchecked data collecting and police militarization.
Why are Garcetti and the 2028 bid committee singing Trump’s praises?
LA2028 called Trump a “true partner” at a recent press conference. How can the mayor and our city fight Trump if they have to be partners? Doesn’t the Olympic bid stand in direct opposition to the goal of resistance?
Why does the IOC get to call the shots on timing? The IOC set a contract deadline of Sept. 13 for an event that won’t happen for another 11 years. That’s their choice, but why is L.A. so willing to go along? The City Council has claimed that they’re not willing to host the Olympics “at any cost.” We should all have more time to parse this out.
In endorsing the 2028 Olympics, Garcetti et al keep repeating that tired “youth sports combat poverty” narrative. But youth sports and the Olympics won’t fix poverty, won’t fix homelessness, won’t fix our healthcare crisis, won’t fix our density and transit issues, won’t fix our prison system, and certainly won’t help our anemic public education system.
Los Angeles doesn’t need the Olympics.
Garcetti has dozens of other priorities he and his staff should be focusing on. In so many ways, the L.A. of the past is dying, and we need a mayor who won’t gamble our future to create a win so he can ascend the national political ladder.
It’s not too late for the City Council to delay the vote and do the right thing.
MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI wants to hurry up and get a host contract through the City Council.