olympic rings over a US flag

Addressing speculation regarding why Los Angeles leaders were so receptive to the idea of hosting the Olympics in 2028 while ceding the `24 Games to Paris, the president of the International Olympic Committee said Monday the idea originated with U.S. officials.

Speaking to reporters at City Hall along with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, IOC President Thomas Bach said United States Olympic Committee Chairman Larry Probst first raised the idea last November, when L.A. was finalizing its bid and months before the idea was first mentioned publicly by the IOC.

Media reports at the time suggested the idea came from the IOC, which formally voted over the summer to award both games at the same time.

“(Probst) had given me the idea of a double allocation,” Bach said.

Bach said the idea was floated to him a few weeks before he first met Garcetti in Qatar at a meeting of the Association of National Olympic Committees and the two took a walk together in 115-degree heat.

Bach said he wasn’t sure if the dual bid idea had originated with Garcetti, who “pretended not to be very much aware” of it, “but I’m very sure he was fully, and then I realized that we could continue talking.”

Garcetti did not address whether the idea for hosting 2028 came from him or if he knew about it in advance, but he also did not correct Bach. He and other U.S. Olympic leaders publicly voiced their opposition to hosting in `28 when it was first reported in March, with Garcetti telling Fox11 that “even if there were two (bids awarded in September) … L.A. should go first.”

But by June, ahead of a key meeting of the executive board of the IOC in Lausanne, Switzerland, Garcetti and other leaders were publicly expressing openness to hosting in `28, while Paris leaders took a much harder stance on insisting to host in `24.

Bach said that IOC members were initially resistant to the dual bid idea, which had never been done before. “The excitement was very limited,” Bach said.

IOC support for the idea eventually grew to the point that the dual awarding of the two Olympics was done via a unanimous vote in Peru on Wednesday.

L.A. was able to shake numerous financial concessions out of the IOC for waiting the extra four years.

Under the terms of the 2028 host city contract, the IOC promised to immediately advance $180 million to the Los Angeles organizing committee due to the longer planning period and to fund youth sports in the years leading up to the Games.

The IOC also agreed to waive $50 million in fees and contribute up to $2 billion of its broadcast and sponsorship revenues to the Games, more than the $1.7 billion pledged to Paris for 2024. The IOC also agreed to funnel any of its profits from the Games back to the city.

L.A. initially competed along with Boston, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., to be the United States’ official bid city for the `24 Games before losing out to Boston in 2015. But later in the year, Boston dropped out due to growing local opposition and L.A. took its place.

The city entered the contest for `24 along with Paris, Hamburg, Rome and Budapest. But one by one, cities dropped out, leaving only Paris and L.A.

Over the summer, the IOC announced its official decision to award both the `24 and `28 Games at the same time, if Los Angeles and Paris agreed, which they did. Within weeks Garcetti and other Olympic leaders announced a tentative agreement to host in `28 that was formalized in Peru. The decision by the IOC was influenced by the soaring cost of hosting the Olympics and the fact that fewer cities have seemed willing to assume the financial risk.

Tokyo’s 2020 plan has already doubled to $12.6 billion, Rio de Janeiro is still struggling to pay off the debt from its $13 billion hosting duties in 2016, and the 2014 Games in Sochi ballooned from a budget of $12 billion to around $50 billion.

Both Los Angeles and Paris submitted bids widely seen as fiscally responsible, which fed the IOC’s decision to grant two Games at the same time.

LA 2028, the renamed committee leading the city’s bid, had proposed a balanced budget of $5.3 billion for `24 by utilizing existing venues and not building any new permanent structures just for the Games. Although an independent analysis of a budget for `28 will not likely be completed for months, it is not expected to differ much in cost or approach.

–City News Service

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