Six rea­sons to worry

Open ques­tions about L.A.’s 2028 Olympic bid

Los Angeles Times - - OP-ED - By Jonny Cole­man Jonny Cole­man is an or­ga­nizer with NO­lympics LA.

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.

Jean-Christophe Bott As­so­ci­ated Press

MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI wants to hurry up and get a host con­tract through the City Coun­cil.

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