By Eddie Pells, AP
Los Angeles wants back into the Olympics, throwing its hat into the ring to bring them back to southern California on the 40th anniversary of its last turn as host — the 1984 Games that revived the flagging reputation of the brand.
The U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) received a letter from the host of the 1932 and 1984 Games, with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa expressing “enthusiastic interest” in pursuing a bid for 2024.
The USOC is deciding whether to bid for the 2024 Games and recently sent a letter to 35 of America’s largest cities to gauge interest. USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said the federation has received a handful of responses and he is pleased with how the process is going.
He said he was “delighted” Los Angeles has expressed interest.
“Obviously, LA can handle the Games,” Blackmun said Friday after the USOC’s quarterly board meeting. “They’ve done a great job in the past.”
The Los Angeles Games of 1984 were considered a triumph, coming at a time when the U.S. and Soviet Union were trading boycotts, when the Games were largely viewed as money-losing propositions and when cities were reluctant to try for them; Tehran was the only other city that expressed any interest in hosting the 1984 Games.
But Los Angeles lost out to Chicago in the domestic bid process the USOC held to choose its 2016 candidate. That was a lengthy, costly, somewhat unwieldy affair that Blackmun said will not be repeated if the USOC decides to try for the 2024 Games.
“Chicago and Los Angeles spent significant sums in connection with the 2016 bid,” Blackmun said. “New York City spent significant money in connection with the 2012 bid. This will be based on more informal discussions that help us choose a partner who we think gives us the best chance to bid.”
Los Angeles would be vying to join London as the only three-time hosts.
Among those backing a Los Angeles bid include actor Tom Hanks, Walt Disney chair Robert Iger and Magic Johnson.
Leaders in Chicago, which spent around US$10 million during the domestic bid process that eventually led to its last-place finish in the 2016 voting, have said they don’t intend to try again. Two other iconic American cities, New York and San Francisco, would be new Olympic hosts, though Blackmun said the USOC doesn’t have a predisposition on whether a first-time or multi-time host would be the best bidder.
“We want to look at whatever city is going to give us the best chance, whether or not it’s hosted the Games before,” Blackmun said.
The United States last hosted the Summer Olympics in 1996 in Atlanta. Salt Lake City hosted the last Winter Games in 2002.
Blackmun said there was no discussion at Friday’s quarterly board meeting about a potential 2026 bid. The USOC has said it is weighing a Summer vs. Winter bid. Candidates for the 2024 Games must declare themselves by 2015, with the Games awarded in 2017. Blackmun said the USOC will decide in late 2014 whether to field a candidate for 2024.