With IOC in town, L.A. sells it­self as ready-made for 2024 Olympics

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY RICK MAESE

los an­ge­les — For mem­bers of the group try­ing to lure the 2024 Sum­mer Games to the United States, court­ing the pow­er­ful In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee hasn’t al­ways been easy, largely be­cause of pro­ce­dural rules that re­strict their con­tact and com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

“It’s like dat­ing with a strait­jacket,” Los An­ge­les Mayor Eric Garcetti joked. “It’s a lit­tle dif­fi­cult to wrap your arms around each other.”

But when the IOC’s eval­u­a­tion com­mis­sion fi­nally came to town this week, mem­bers of the LA 2024 com­mit­tee tried to put their best foot for­ward. They took IOC mem­bers to a base­ball game and treated them to Dodger Dogs. They gave them a cus­tom­ized surf­board to take home. There was a pri­vate din­ner that in­cluded Sylvester Stal­lone, Kobe Bryant and Plá­cido Domingo. They toured the re­gion from Pasadena to Long Beach, USC to UCLA, the Rose Bowl to the Los An­ge­les Me­mo­rial Coli­seum, meet­ing Olympians along the way, in­clud­ing Brandi Chas­tain, Allyson Felix and Michael John­son.

But glitz and glam­our weren’t the bid’s big­gest sell­ing points. On the con­trary, the LA 2024 group con­tin­u­ally tried to im­press the eval­u­a­tion com­mis­sion with its fis­cal re­straint, the city’s ex­ist­ing in­fras­truc­ture and the fact that most key build­ings and venues are al­ready in place. While the Olympic bid­ding process is in a state of peril fol­low­ing the vol­un­tary with­drawals of sev­eral can­di­date cities fear­ful of high costs and low re­turns, the LA 2024 bid bills it­self as a road map for the fu­ture.

“We don’t want to be a one-off bid,” Garcetti said. “We want to have lessons from Los An­ge­les that are repli­ca­ble to other cities as well.”

Los An­ge­les is com­pet­ing with Paris to host the 2024 Games. While Paris might be pegged by some as a sen­ti­men­tal fa­vorite — the 2024 Olympics would mark the 100th an­niver­sary of the 1924 Paris Games — the LA 2024 com­mit­tee tried last week to show off its pre­pared­ness and an Olympic

that was born for many in the re­gion by the 1984 Games here.

Given re­cent tur­moil over the bid­ding process, it’s pos­si­ble both cities are awarded an Olympics — one in 2024 and the other four years later — when the IOC con­venes in Septem­ber to make its se­lec­tion. And while the process has high­lighted some in­her­ent prob­lems, LA 2024 thinks its bid points to so­lu­tions.

Host­ing an Olympics typ­i­cally means build­ing new venues for com­pe­ti­tions, hous­ing and in­fras­truc­ture to ac­com­mo­date the crowds. An Olympic Vil­lage for ath­letes and com­pounds ded­i­cated to broad­cast­ing and me­dia workspace tend to drive up the costs.

Rather than build from scratch, the LA 2024 bid pro­poses uti­liz­ing ex­ist­ing build­ings. For ex­am­ple, the IOC eval­u­a­tion com­mis­sion vis­ited USC’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion school, which would serve as a me­dia cen­ter. They toured the res­i­dence halls on UCLA’s cam­pus, which would house ath­letes, and dorm rooms at USC, which would house the in­ter­na­tional me­dia.

“These were re­ally im­pres­sive be­cause these two beau­ti­ful cam­puses, they have ev­ery­thing,” said Pa­trick Bau­mann, chair of the vis­it­ing IOC com­mis­sion.

Said Casey Wasser­man, the LA 2024 chair­man: “It wasn’t about green­field sites or blueprints. It was about touch­ing and feel­ing.”

The eval­u­a­tion com­mis­sion — short two mem­bers be­cause of health is­sues — spent a full day meet­ing with the LA 2024 bid com­mit­tee and another tour­ing the re­gion. They headed to Paris this weekend where they would learn more about that city’s bid.

In Paris, the com­mis­sion mem­bers are ex­pected to meet with newly elected French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron. In Los An­ge­les, how­ever, U.S. pol­i­tics were mostly kept far in the back­ground.

Pres­i­dent Trump is a pos­si­ble wild card for LA 2024, and many fear his com­ments and poli­cies could im­pact the bid. Bau­mann said the pres­i­dent was not a dis­cus­sion point dur­ing their meet­ings here.

“No points were raised in any way in po­lit­i­cal mat­ters in our scope of dis­cus­sions,” Bau­mann said.

In Garcetti’s open­ing re­marks to the com­mis­sion Wed­nes­day, he didn’t men­tion Trump’s name but seemed to al­lude to con­cerns that might be on the mem­bers’ minds.

The eval­u­a­tion com­mis­sion seemed im­pressed with much of what it saw, and Bau­mann said there were “no ma­jor risks to high­light.” The group will re­port its find­ings to the full IOC, which is pro­hib­ited from tour­ing the two finalists. Bau­mann said hav­ing Los An­ge­les and Paris as op­tions is “clearly a win-win sit­u­a­tion” for the IOC.

The LA 2024 bid also prom­ises to keep costs down, both the inien­thu­si­asm tial es­ti­mates and the fi­nal price tags. Ac­cord­ing to a gov­ern­ment­funded re­port re­lated to Bos­ton’s since-aban­doned 2024 bid, since 1960, the Olympic Games ex­pe­ri­enced av­er­age cost over­runs of nearly 180 per­cent. The most re­cent Sum­mer Olympics last year in Rio de Janeiro started with a bid of $14.4 bil­lion and in­cluded sub­stan­tial in­fras­truc­ture projects and con­struc­tion. The fi­nal cost was ex­pected to be around $20 bil­lion. The Tokyo 2020 Games could end up cost­ing $30 bil­lion, ap­prox­i­mately four times higher than the ini­tial es­ti­mate.

By com­par­i­son, LA 2024 has pro­posed a $5.3 bil­lion bud­get, which in­cludes $492 mil­lion in con­tin­gency funds for un­fore­seen prob­lems. “The bid we sub­mit­ted is the Games we will de­liver,” Wasser­man said. “That’s re­ally what we mean when we say low-risk.”

Be­cause of the na­ture of the pro­posal, the LA 2024 com­mit­tee wasn’t sim­ply shar­ing blueprints with the eval­u­a­tion com­mis­sion. The mem­bers shot bas­kets at Sta­ples Cen­ter down­town, trav­eled to Pasadena to see where soc­cer would be played, Long Beach to see where open-wa­ter swim­ming would be con­tested, Santa Mon­ica to see the beach vol­ley­ball grounds. They vis­ited the Los An­ge­les Rams and used vir­tual-re­al­ity head­sets to “tour” the sta­dium, which is un­der con­struc­tion and would serve as home to Open­ing and Clos­ing Cer­e­monies. At other stops, such as the Coli­seum, they uti­lized “aug­mented re­al­ity,” pan­ning a tablet over the hori­zon to see ex­actly how an area will look in 2024.

But mostly, LA 2024 was hop­ing the city’s en­ergy and blue skies would make it easy for IOC mem­bers to en­vi­sion a Los An­ge­les Sum­mer Games.

“The Olympics asked us not to buff this city up,” Garcetti said. “I mean, this is Hol­ly­wood — we could’ve had the best show, the cutest kids lin­ing up; we could’ve had the most amaz­ing fire­works. We didn’t change a sin­gle thing.”

Other 2024 can­di­dates have come and gone: Bos­ton, Ham­burg, Bu­dapest, Rome. Only Los An­ge­les and Paris re­main. Garcetti says it’s “an im­por­tant mo­ment” for the IOC. It will not sim­ply be choos­ing a 2024 host, but it could be set­ting a prece­dent for what fu­ture Olympics should look like, what they should cost and whether host­ing an Olympics helps or hurts a city.

“We want ev­ery city in the world in 2025 to line up and say, ‘The Olympics are some­thing we want to have in our town, too.’” Garcetti said. “That is the value propo­si­tion to the move­ment in Los An­ge­les. We can cre­ate that again.”

JAE C. HONG/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The Los An­ge­les bid com­mit­tee for the 2024 Olympics plans to use ex­ist­ing in­fras­truc­ture, in­clud­ing Sta­ples Cen­ter, to host events such as bas­ket­ball and gym­nas­tics.

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