RIO DE JANEIRO – If Los Angeles is picked to host the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the grand total of new structures that will be needed to host them is one.
That’s right: one.
Existing infrastructure and a commitment to sustainability are at the heart of the Los Angeles 2024 bid, which was presented to media Tuesday in Rio, with the International Olympic Committee set to make its final pick in September of next year.
“We don’t have our Olympic infrastructure up on drawing boards (because) it’s actually already on the ground,” Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti told a room packed with reporters. “That means we can be in line with Agenda 2020 and what the Olympics is all about.”
Agenda 2020, put forth by the IOC, has called for a more legacy-minded Olympics, and LA believes it has just that. The proposed bid calls for athletes to be housed at the UCLA campus, media to set down roots at a planned USC facility and the cornerstone of the Games – its biggest stadium – already set for the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams facility, to be built by 2019, in nearby Inglewood.
“With our infrastructure, we are not proposing new lines for our buses, airport renovations or port modernization because we are already doing all of that as a city,” Garcetti said, noting the $55 billion already earmarked for forthcoming transportation projects.
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LA 2024’s “Follow the sun” motto highlights the one thing the City of Angels is known best for: Its consistent, ever-pleasant weather. But with Olympic champions Janet Evans, Angela Ruggiero, Michael Johnson and Nadia Comaneci (all of whom were present in Rio) as part of the bid city’s greater team, the focus is on the athletes and athlete experience at the Games.
“We’ve been traveling around the U.S. and have held seven town hall meetings with Olympians and Paralympians to get input from them on our plan,” said Evans, a five-time Olympic medalist swimmer and vice chairperson for LA 2024. “They are not just U.S. athletes; they are athletes from around the world who live and train in the U.S., as well.”
Other bid cities for 2024 include Paris, Rome and Budapest. LA is looking to become just the second city to host three Olympics after London (in 2012), having been the home of the 1932 and 1984 Games. The U.S. has not hosted a summer Games since Atlanta in 1996, or any Olympics since Salt Lake City in 2002.
“What LA and the U.S. has to offer at this time is a great host city,” Michael Johnson, four-time Olympic track champion, told reporters. “I think the impact is a lasting one on the community in terms of legacy with sport venues and inspiring young people, as well.”
“The people of LA love the Games and they love what they did for the city in 1984 and they love the fact that bringing it back will revive that,” said Anita DeFrantz, a member of the IOC’s executive board and LA 2024’s senior advisor for legacy.
One generation in LA knows the ’84 Games well, but another – younger – one, doesn’t know them much at all. The bid focuses on engaging the over 100 million young people in the U.S. to experience their home country hosting an Olympics.
“Our goal is to serve and partner with the IOC and the broader Olympic movement to reimagine a Games model that will redefine sustainability, minimize risk and re-engage the global youth audience for the next 100 years,” said Casey Wasserman, chairman of LA 2024 committee. “That’s a tall order, but the optimism and creativity in our city have helped re-imagine the future time and time again.”
While most host cities have just seven years – the lag time between being picked and the Games themselves – to get ready, LA feels as though it already is.
“The first official act that I took as a mayor was to pursue the Games to bring them back to America and back to Los Angeles,” said mayor Garcetti. “We are one of the world’s great sports towns: Our city is blessed with a wealth of Olympics-ready infrastructure.”
And what else will be guaranteed at the LA 2024 Games?
“We can deliver good weather – it’s what we’re known for,” joked Garcetti.