Evaluating LA Bid For 2024 Olympics Requires Imagination

​By MICHAEL R. BLOOD, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Evaluating Los Angeles' readiness to host the 2024 Olympic Games takes some imagination. That's because a lot of the pitch still relies on images on a computer screen, or a blueprint of what's to come on a dusty construction site.

Los Angeles Olympic organizers often say their plan for two weeks of international competition is virtually realized, stressing that it requires no new construction of permanent venues. The concept for the LA Games, they say, is ready to go because "it already exists."



But there is a lot that International Olympic Committee members won't see as they visit Los Angeles this week in the run-up to a September decision on whether LA or Paris will get the 2024 Games.

Some of the opening ceremonies, including the famous Parade of Nations, would take place in a $2.6 billion NFL stadium just outside Los Angeles that today is a gouged, fenced-in lot crisscrossed by tire tracks.

The city notorious for its clotted freeway traffic will make use of a "growing public transit system," the LA proposal boasts. Indeed, Los Angeles has billions of dollars of planned rail lines, some of which are under construction and not scheduled to be completed until 2023 or 2024. Others are in use and would drop spectators near venues.

City planners describe Los Angeles International Airport as the "gateway" for the Olympics. But anyone familiar with the airport knows it inflicts daily misery on travelers, including knotted traffic in and out of terminals. An impressive new terminal opened several years ago for international flights, and billions of dollars in other improvements are underway.

LA's bid is closer to completion than many in past years, but in some ways it comes down to a promise of what's to come.

This week, IOC members are looking for "the ability to deliver," Chicago-based sports finance consultant Marc Ganis said. They want to see "commitment and competence," he said, not just sketches and mock-ups.

On Thursday, members of the IOC fanned out in three groups to privately tour the proposed venues, from downtown Los Angeles to Long Beach to Carson to Pasadena, and the campuses of Southern California and UCLA.

The media village would be at USC, while the athletes' village would be at UCLA, where existing residence and dining halls would be used.

"The feedback was incredible," said LA24 chairman Casey Wasserman, who didn't elaborate on the IOC's reaction.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti added: "They had good suggestions that helped our thinking a lot."

In the background is a looming question. The IOC is considering awarding two Olympics at its September meeting in Peru, 2024 and 2028, one for each city. Officials from both cities stress they are bidding on 2024.

On Wednesday, Patrick Baumann, chairman of the IOC evaluation committee, didn't directly address a question about the possibility of awarding the 2024 and 2028 Games at the same time.

"We will be concentrating on the process that has started and these cities have been going through for the purpose of awarding the host of 2024," Baumann told reporters.

In the Olympics, time is the enemy. As late as March 2000, the IOC considered moving the 2004 Olympics out of Athens, Greece, because of construction delays. Even so, work on the main stadium complex was ongoing just weeks before the Games began.

There are six venues planned for Long Beach, a coastal city south of downtown LA. Some of them will require temporary facilities that don't exist today, including a water polo pool. Others will take place in the ocean or in Long Beach Arena.

The cost of making it a reality comes out of the bid's $5.3 billion budget. Erecting and removing the temporary pool and bleachers, for example, is projected at nearly $14 million. A mountain biking track in the hills east of Los Angeles will cost over $13 million. A temporary outdoor stadium would rise next to the famous Santa Monica Pier for beach volleyball. Cost: $23.4 million.

Even sites that do exist, like the iconic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, home to the 1932 and 1984 Olympics, are works in progress.

It's slated to have a $270 million privately funded renovation completed by 2019, but transforming a football stadium into a venue for Olympic track events, then back again, will cost over $100 million, according to projections.

A little stagecraft can help fill in what's missing. At the Rose Bowl, organizers emblazoned the field with the Olympic rings for the IOC guests. Hollywood studios were illuminated with the colors of an LA sunset and the logo for the city's bid to mark the arrival of the IOC. Committee members attended a celebrity-studded dinner Wednesday where guests included retired Lakers great Kobe Bryant, Spanish tenor Placido Domingo and actor Sylvester Stallone.

"A lot of the stadiums for the Olympics are being envisioned for the future. They would not even be built if it wasn't for the Olympics," said Jules Boykoff, a professor at Pacific University in Oregon who has written widely on the Olympics movement.

"If you have existing venues, you don't have to envision as much. It still takes some imagination," he said.


Related:
Los Angeles, Paris Await Olympic Inspectors In 2024 Race

What's The Difference: The Tkatchev Family

You know those skills where the gymnast swings around the high bar, lets go of it, flies impossibly high in the air with her legs perfectly positioned and her toes perfectly pointed and then catches it on the other side? Those are the Tkatchev skills, a family of skills done on the uneven bars with a seemingly exponential number of names and nuances. Here’s the gym-nerd’s guide to knowing your Tkatchev from your Ray, Galante, Ricna and all of the rest of them, because knowing those tiny, tricky differences makes watching gymnastics even more of a delight. 

SEC Gymnastics Preview: Individuals To Watch In 2019

The SEC is known for having the top gymnastics teams in the NCAA, and with that comes some of the top individual gymnasts. Now that the NCAA Championships will only include eight teams instead of 12, some teams that are used to contending and advancing to NCAAs will end up sending only individual gymnasts to the national postseason. Therefore individual competition may be more competitive than ever before, especially in the ultra-competitive SEC.

2019 Cancun Classic Offers Michigan A Chance To Bond, Start Season Strong

The Michigan women’s gymnastics team couldn’t have picked a better way to kick off its 2019 season. The Wolverines will join Iowa State, West Virginia, and Rutgers at the Cancun Classic in Cancun, Mexico, on Jan. 4.

6 Ways For Gymnastics Coaches To Better Prevent Injuries

For any high-performing gymnast, injuries are essentially inevitable. But there are ways that gymnastics coaches can approach their training program — both physical and mental — that can help prevent the injuries that are potentially avoidable, and to create an environment where gymnasts are both safe and empowered. We spoke to some of the country’s top coaches to get their philosophies, their methods, and their strategies.

SEC Gymnastics Preview: Traditional Powers LSU, Alabama, & Florida Reload

As always, the Southeastern Conference is loaded with talent — traditional powerhouses like Florida and LSU, but many more top teams in the nation. This year you'll be able to catch a few of these teams, and much more, right here on FloGymnastics. But before we can start watching the meets, let's dive into each team's standing, who they added and lost, and what may be to come in the 2018-2019 season.

Big Ten Power Michigan Starts Their Gymnastics Season Strong At Exhibition

The University of Michigan Women’s Gymnastics team is usually the team to beat in the Big Ten, and if their exhibition meet on Saturday, December 2, is any indication of how their year will go, this season will be no exception. The team squared off with three other Michigan teams at 2 PM in the Crisler Center, marking the fifth year in a row Michigan has competed against Eastern Michigan for an exhibition meet in this location. The Wolverines competed against Central Michigan as recently as last spring but has not faced off against Western Michigan since 2011.

USA Gymnastics Files For Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

USA Gymnastics has filed a voluntary petition for protection under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code. USAG posted the news in a press release along with a post outlining frequently asked questions.

10 Gymnastics Skills From The Past That Aren't Performed Anymore

In gymnastics, it’s no secret that skills go in and out of style faster than you can say “Tsukahara.” Between upgrades that make simpler skills obsolete, changing trends, and banned skills, gymnastics fans know the skills they love seeing performed today will likely become irrelevant down the road.

5 Of The Most Common Gymnastics Injuries & How Best To Prevent Them

We’ve all heard the horror stories: the pop! from a too-short vault, the head-first crash from a beam dismount, the terrifying falls from a release skill on bars. But the majority of gymnastics injuries — 65–70 percent of them, in fact — aren’t dramatic; they happen from years and years of over-use. 

NCAA Gymnasts To Watch At Elevate The Stage Birmingham

Just over one month is left until the NCAA gymnastics season begins, and teams all over the country will compete weekend after weekend in dual meets, quad meets, and even meets on podium — like Elevate the Stage. The 2019 NCAA season includes two Elevate the Stage events with the final one happening in Birmingham, Alabama.