The U.S. Olympic Committee will proceed with a potential Los Angeles bid for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games after the USOC board of directors authorized further negotiations with city leaders on Wednesday. The USOC is up against a September 15 deadline to submit a bid for the event, a deadline made shorter by the recent decision to abandon a bid from Boston that had been in the works since January.
“We hope to finalize terms that benefit both the city of Los Angeles and the Olympic movement in the United States so that we can submit a world-class bid to the International Olympic Committee by their September 15 deadline,” USOC Chairman Larry Probst said.
While the Boston bid fell apart, in part, because of poor support in local polling, USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said that a USOC poll conducted in early August showed 81 percent of Los Angeles residents supporting a potential bid—a figure he said was higher than when the USOC last polled area residents in December. While not revealing a specific percentage who were opposed to a bid, he said the number was “quite low.”
“It’s remarkable and very encouraging that 81 percent of people in L.A. support having L.A. host the 2024 Olympic Games,” Blackmun said. “We feel really good on that public support issue.”
Blackmun said the USOC hopes to have negotiations complete with Los Angeles city leaders by the end of August before announcing a formal bid. “The important thing to remember here is we’re on a truncated timeline but that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to take time to make sure this works well for both partners in the partnership,” Blackmun said. “Our discussions with L.A. to date have been very positive but there are complicated issues in the discussions and I’m very, very optimistic that we’re going to be able to get to a place that’s good for both of us.”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti earlier this week told the Los Angeles Times that the city is pursuing a bid with a projected $4.1 billion budget. The city, he said, would also guarantee to pay for any cost overruns—a key distinction from what Boston city leaders had proposed in their bid. A Los Angeles bid is expected to make use of existing venues in the region, which hosted the Olympic Summer Games in 1932 and 1984.
Before deciding to continue with Los Angeles, the USOC contacted the other cities that were finalists in January—San Francisco and Washington, D.C.—to gauge their interest. Blackmun said several other cities also contacted the USOC interested in launching a potential bid. But the board chose to proceed with Los Angeles, in part, because of the area’s experience with past Games, he said.
“You can’t overestimate the importance of the experience,” Blackmun said. “They’ve got strong venues, they have incredibly strong public support and they have incredibly strong political support. I think it’s a combination of things, all of which go to suggest that it’s going to be a positive experience for people who come to the Games if L.A. is fortunate enough to win.” Blackmun added that the bid has “unanimous if not near unanimous support” from the city’s congressional delegation, and support from the California governor’s office, the Los Angeles City Council and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
In addition to a potential bid from the United States, Paris, Rome, Budapest and Hamburg have all said they intend to bid for the 2024 Games. Toronto is also considering a bid after the successful staging of the Pan American Games in July. A final decision is expected in 2017.