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22 July 2024

'No risk' if LA gets 2024 Games

Pic: AFP


An International Olympic Committee delegation on Friday lavished praise on Los Angeles's bid for the 2024 Games, stating that there would be "no major risk" if the city was awarded the sporting extravaganza.

Patrick Baumann, chairman of the IOC's Evaluation Commission, said at the end of a three-day visit that delegates had been impressed by what they had found in an "incredible Olympic city."

"Los Angeles is already a great Olympic city but after these three days, we realise that was a great understatement," Baumann said. "The Olympic spirit is incredibly strong in this city."

Los Angeles, which is competing against Paris for the right to host the Games, has based its bid on an array of iconic venues which already exist or are being built.

Baumann said the readiness of so many venues -- as well as plans to use the campus of UCLA as the athletes' village -- left a good impression on the IOC team.

"This visit has confirmed our opinion that Los Angeles has developed an excellent proposal and probably, given the facilities that are already here, that seven years of lead time is a luxury," Baumann said.

"In LA there is no major risk that we can highlight in any way right now," Baumann told reporters, adding that commission members had been "almost ecstatic" while visiting venues during the trip.

"It goes from spectacular venues to impressive venues, to mindblowing venues to incredible venues," Baumann said. "That's a very clear and positive thing because you're able to see (the venues)."

Los Angeles is hoping to exploit the Olympic movement's desire to avoid the spectacle seen from recent Games of costly, white elephant venues left to fall into disuse.

A bid with no holes

The Evaluation Commission will begin a three-day visit of 2024 rival Paris starting on Sunday, before publishing reports on both bids in early July.

The IOC will then hold a vote in Lima on September 13 to decide which city gets the games.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, one of LA 2024's leaders, meanwhile revealed that private feedback from individual members of the IOC delegation had also been positive.

"One of them said to us: 'We keep looking for the hole in this bid and we can't find it,'" Garcetti told journalists.

Paris and Los Angeles were left as the last two cities in the race after Rome, Budapest and Hamburg pulled out amid widespread public opposition to the multibillion-dollar cost of staging the games.

In recent months, speculation has mounted the IOC will offer hosting rights to the 2028 Olympics to the city which fails to win the 2024 Games.

Both Paris and Los Angeles officials have said they remain focused only on hosting the 2024 Olympics.

Garcetti however praised the IOC's willingness to explore the option of awarding two Games at once.

"If the rules change, I think any city would have to look at the terms of what a 2028 award means," Garcetti said. "Our committee will look at that if the rules change. If you can create winners instead of so many losers, that's good for the Olympic movement.

"I'd like to take the same flight that the IOC members are going to take today (to Paris) -- but I'd prefer to do that in 2028."

Baumann paid tribute to the work of Garcetti and bid chairman Casey Wasserman, two native Angelenos who witnessed the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics as children, describing them as the "dynamic duo."

"I think that the '1984 boys', Mayor Garcetti and Casey Wasserman, bring a powerful combination of intelligence, enthusiasm and energy to this task," Baumann said.

"We now go to Paris and then will come back and assess our feelings on what we have seen," he said. "There are differences. These are two different cities with different visions.

"But from what we have seen here is that they would be a transformative vision for the Games moving forward."