LA2024 officials held a briefing in Rio de Janeiro to discuss their bid for the Olympic Summer Games and the message they were sending without explicitly saying it was that Los Angeles would not have nearly as many problems for the International Olympic Committee as Rio has had concerning infrastructure. That’s because only one venue in the L.A. bid—a whitewater center—would have to be built, leaving Los Angeles to focus on the experience of athletes and spectators. And other city transportation projects are in the works regardless of whether the city wins its bid.
“Our city is blessed with a wealth of Olympics-ready infrastructure,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “We don’t have our Olympics infrastructure up on a drawing board. It’s already in the ground.”
That may be a powerful message to the IOC, who next year will choose between Los Angeles, Paris, Rome and Budapest to host the 2024 Olympic Summer Games. For the past two Olympics in Rio and in Sochi, Russia, organizers have gone to the last minute finishing venues and the athletes’ village, among other major infrastructure projects that have caused delays.
As for messaging, L.A. has already shown its willingness to bring out some star power. In addition to the officials who spoke at a press conference at the Olympic Park’s Main Press Center, Olympic legends Nadia Comaneci and Bart Conner (gymnastics), Michael Johnson (track and field) and Sinjin Smith (volleyball) were seated in the front row to show their support.
Bid Chairman Casey Wasserman said the bid committee’s main goal in Rio is to be in front of the IOC members who will vote at a session in 2017 in Lima, Peru. “This is not a hard sell,” he told SportsTravel. “This is our opportunity to continue to build relationships. What we’re asking them to do is to trust us with their most valuable asset. That requires them to know us and respect us and we have to do that with great humility. It’s an effort that’s nonstop and culminates with the vote in Lima.”
Indeed, U.S. Olympic Committee Chairman Larry Probst noted that the L.A. bid is focused on building international relationships. “I think it’s really important that we expose our bid leadership to the IOC membership and do that in the appropriate fashion,” he said. “That’s the reason Mayor Garcetti will be here 10 or so days, Casey will be here the entire time. As Americans we have to be humble and hard working and we have to do our best to build genuine relationships and friendship with IOC members.”
Garcetti noted that he attended the Closing Ceremony in Los Angeles in 1984 and the Opening Ceremony in Rio was the first Olympic event he had attended since. Garcetti said he has been impressed by what he’s seen. “For the infrastructure projects it’s the public transportation that’s the most impressive. Is everything done? No. Is everything perfect? No. But it never will be. The Olympics are kind of train wreck from beginning to end—kind of like political campaigns—but if you can keep it on the tracks? Then wow, the destination you get to is worth it.”
Garcetti took questions about the impact of a potential Donald Trump presidency on a U.S. bid, as well as a question about gun control and safety in the United States. On Trump, he said, “This bid does not depend on any election. This bid is about a city that is connected to the Olympics and the way sports transforms and transcends politics. An America that turns inward, or any country that turns inward isn’t good for progress and isn’t good for all of us. The America I saw in ‘84 where the face of the world was on the sidewalks of my city, is something that can inspire a nation, not just a city.” On gun control he noted that security is an issue around the world and highlighted the city’s measures to curb violence.