L.A. Olympic bid leaders make their case before international audience

As the competition to host the 2024 Summer Games nears a climax, the leaders of Los Angeles’ campaign have set a clear goal — to differentiate themselves from rival Paris.

In the labyrinthine politics of the Olympic movement, the French capital is considered a sentimental favorite, which means L.A. must position itself as technically superior and more modern.

That message served as a focal point Tuesday when officials from both cities spoke at an international sports convention in Denmark.

“It’s important we draw a distinction in our vision here today, because although many believe the two bids in this race are quite similar … they are, in fact, very different,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told the audience at SportAccord.

With the International Olympic Committee scheduled to select a host in September, Paris figures to be the slight front-runner in the two-city race for a couple of reasons.

It is, after all, Paris. And 2024 will mark 100 years since the City of Light last hosted the Games in 1924.

So the Paris 2024 bid committee has compared itself to L.A. on a technical level, noting that both plans seek to minimize costs by making use of existing stadiums and arenas.

During their presentation, officials from the French capital also told SportAccord that the footprint for their proposal is more compact and would feature global icons such as the Eiffel Tower and Palace of Versailles.

“Our plan will see central Paris itself become our Olympic Park,” Etienne Thobois was quoted as saying.

During L.A.’s turn at the podium, Chief Executive Gene Sykes made it clear that with Paris planning to build an athletes village, his bid would save more than $1 billion by housing athletes in the UCLA dormitories.

“Now, I’ve been a banker for over 30 years,” the former Goldman Sachs executive said. “That means I specialize in reducing risk … that’s why our village makes so much sense.”

The candidates took a few, veiled shots at each other. Paris touted its “realistic and tested” public transit; L.A. will rely greatly on planned transportation improvements.

LA 2024 Chairman Casey Wasserman addressed the issue of nostalgia.

“First, we’re a young city, full of fresh, new ideas,” he said. “Second, we’re not focused on the last 100 years, we are focused on the next 100.”

Wasserman also talked about the “elephant in the room” — the IOC is exploring the option of naming two winners, awarding 2024 to one city and 2028 to the other.

Paris has said it would not accept the later Games. On Tuesday, L.A. leaders maintained a softer stance, acknowledging the two-winner option “makes a lot of sense” but insisting they remain focused on 2024.

Wasserman returned to the issue of cost efficiency, referencing a dilemma within the Olympic world. Recent years have seen potential hosts shying away because past Games have incurred massive deficits.

“I think we all agree that 2024 must be a transformative Games for the movement,” he said. “This means the next seven years can actually help define the next 100 years.”

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times

Paris Europe International Olympic Committee L.A. 2024 Olympic Bid Eric Garcetti 2024 Summer Olympics

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