The Olympics Return To LA | KUOW News and Information

The Olympics Return To LA

Aug 1, 2017
Originally published on August 1, 2017 7:17 am
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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The Summer Olympics are coming to the United States for the first time since 1996. Yesterday, organizers in Los Angeles announced a deal with the International Olympic Committee for LA to host the games in 2028. LA lost out in its competition with Paris for the 2024 games. But now, both cities have the Olympics. And the IOC, for the first time in a while, is happy about the bidding process. Joining me now is NPR's sports correspondent Tom Goldman. Hey, Tom.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Good morning.

CHANG: OK, so I remember being obsessed with Mary Lou Retton when I was 8 years old and she won gold in 1984, in LA. I'm super excited. Is LA in 2028 a done deal? This is really happening?

GOLDMAN: (Laughter). Don't want to burst your bubble - not quite yet.

CHANG: Oh.

GOLDMAN: The LA City Council has to approve the deal. And that should happen next week. And then there's a final IOC vote next month. The consensus is, though - good news - the IOC vote will fully support this unprecedented double bid, Paris in 2024, LA in 2028.

CHANG: Los Angeles organizers unveiled this agreement with the IOC during this, like, big, cheerful press conference yesterday. But aren't they upset at all about losing out on the 2024 games?

GOLDMAN: They say no. You know, this wasn't a surprise. Once the IOC decided, last month, to award the double bid to Paris and LA, the only question was who'd get what. And it was assumed Paris would go first. Paris said it didn't want to host in 2028. 2024 will be the 100th anniversary of the 1924 Paris summer games.

CHANG: Oh.

GOLDMAN: That was a selling point. And also LA sent signals that it was open to going second. Now, LA has leveraged that willingness into some financial concessions by the IOC. The IOC is going to pay $180 million for the organizing committee over the four extra years. And the bulk of that money is going to go for youth sports in Southern California.

And then, another one, IOC is waiving its normal cut from the host city if the host city has money left over after the games. And with LA 2028, there very well could be a surplus.

CHANG: A surplus? I mean does LA...

GOLDMAN: Yeah.

CHANG: ...Really expect to make a lot of money from this? All we hear these days is about Olympic hosts losing money and building facilities that aren't used after the games are over.

GOLDMAN: Yeah, that's true. But LA is different. So much is ready-made - venues, transportation and hospitality infrastructure, athlete housing, media housing on the UCLA and USC campuses. All this stuff has already built. So there's no real threat of major cost overruns or these white elephant facilities that won't be used after the games. LA really is the model for what the IOC wants in its Olympics.

And in fact, Ailsa, Mayor Eric Garcetti predicts after 2028, countries will see the success and, as a result, line up to host future Olympics. For Garcetti to say this, it's a pretty bold statement, considering how cities have been fleeing from the idea of hosting the Olympics.

CHANG: Well, are we hearing some opposition to LA hosting the Olympics?

GOLDMAN: Yeah, we are. I mean, there's local, organized opposition, as there often is in host cities. Protesters in LA say Olympic money should be spent on very real problems in Los Angeles, housing and homeless crises. Opponents also worry about the effects of the federal government overseeing security for the 2028 games. Right now opponents' voices aren't as powerful as the pro-LA Olympics contingent. But they say the 11 years until 2028 gives them time to increase their numbers.

CHANG: Well, thank you very much, Tom.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome.

CHANG: That's NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman.

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