Earlier this week, the International Olympic Council officially announced what had been obvious for months: Los Angeles would drop its bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics and take the 2028 games instead. Never mind that L.A. was handed the Games via a backroom deal rather than through the IOC’s formal voting process; the IOC will compensate Los Angeles handsomely for its patience with an extra $1.8 billion. However, that money is in the form of “contributions to the organizing committee” and is barely more than the amount Rio got from the IOC.
Los Angeles’ candidacy has appeared to address many of the worst issues that plagued Rio de Janeiro and other past Olympics. L.A. will not build a small city’s worth of new facilities, and it’s aware of the bad rap that paying to host an Olympics now gets. However, their solutions, while productive, do little to address the underlying structural rot at the heart of the modern Olympics. Taxpayers will be left holding the bag on cost overruns (it’d be foolish to think that construction delays are impossible), most civic improvements will accelerate gentrification and do nothing to help vulnerable Angelenos, and there are still no checks on potential corruption.
Consider the L.A. City Council. At a Friday council hearing, covered by the Los Angeles Times, council president Herb Wesson said that he wanted the group to vote on the host city agreement as soon as next week, even though the budget for the 2028 Games isn’t settled yet, nor has there been a third-party analysis of a potential 2028 budget. Bid committee chief Gene Sykes told reporters today that they’re planning on applying the same inflation model to the 2028 budget that they used to craft their 2024 budget, but they haven’t yet announced a budget number yet.
Much of Los Angeles’s preparation was centered around securing the 2024 Games, and the four-year extension of the timeline doesn’t mean the city can simply shift the budget and other estimates over four years without expecting anything to change. An internal city office released a report that highlighted the higher amount of uncertainty that comes with hosting the 2028 games, noting that legislation promising $250 million in state money for overruns only applied to the 2024 Olympics. From Times recap of the report.
A city report released Thursday by the Office of the City Administrative Officer and Office of the Chief Legislative Analyst outlined the risks in hosting in 2028.
“The additional four years add uncertainty concerning future economic and political conditions. Although such uncertainty exists with the 2024 Olympic Games which will occur in seven years, the four-year extension increases those uncertainties,” the report stated.
The report also discusses state legislation that provides for $250 million in state taxpayer support to cover cost overruns. However, that legislation was for the 2024 Games, according to the report.
The report said that the question of how much state support the Games will get might not be resolved until 2018, well after the council votes on the host city contract this month. If the Olympics won’t be for another 11 years, why does the city council need to vote on this matter so quickly, before all the formal oversight can be conducted? For all the noise they’ve made about being better than the Rio Olympics and learning from others’ mistakes, this acceleration looks like more of the same.