The International Olympic Committee has made it official: Los Angeles will compete with four European cities — Hamburg, Paris, Rome, and Budapest — to host the 2024 Summer Olympic Games.
“We are welcoming five outstanding and highly qualified candidate cities,” said International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach in a statement. He also alluded to the IOC's push for a more affordable Olympic Games in the future, adding "All candidate cities have been strongly encouraged to focus on legacy and sustainability by placing greater emphasis on the use of existing venues or temporary and demountable venues where no long-term need exists or can be justified."
The costs to the host the 2024 Olympics dominated the conversation in Los Angeles this summer as L.A. went public with its intentions to bid for the Games. The committee behind L.A's bid says the city would turn a surplus if it hosted the 2024 Games, though some have expressed doubt this would happen, since most Summer Olympics in the recent past have gone far overbudget. The IOC requires host cities to cover any cost overruns.
For its part, the IOC gives host cities a sizable monetary contribution. It gave Athens almost a $1 billion for the 2004 Games. It gave Beijing and London more than $1 billion. It will give the host of the 2024 Games $1.7 billion.
Since becoming president of the IOC two years ago, Bach has sought to restore the credibility of the Olympics and get more cities interested in hosting the games. In December, he ushered in a set of reforms known as “Agenda 2020.” That agenda included recommendations to make bidding for and hosting the games more appealing and affordable. The IOC promised to be more flexible with the host city and encourage the use of existing venues over grand and costly plans to build new ones.
“These were steps that really had to be taken in order to get bidders to come back,” says Andrew Zimbalist, an economics professor at Smith College and author of “Circus Maximus: The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting the Olympics and the World Cup.” Zimbalist doesn’t believe the IOC’s reforms will be enough to save a host city from cost overruns.
“'Agenda 2020’ provides changes on the margin, but it doesn’t provide enough substantive change to make this – economically speaking – a worthwhile investment,” Zimbalist told KPCC.
Michael Leeds, a professor of Economics at Temple University agrees. “Los Angeles should not count on any net benefit from this. If it can avoid a pile of debt, it’s done a good job,” he says.
Both professors point to a study from the University of Oxford that looked at the cost of past Olympics. It found that, on average, all of the Summer Games since 1976 have cost 252 percent more than their original projections.
The bidding process for the 2024 Games will take two years, ending with a final vote in Lima, Peru, in September 2017.
This post has been updated