Business & Economy

Los Angeles will host Summer Olympics in 2028

File: A view of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum during the closing ceremony of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles on Aug. 12, 1984. The scoreboard has a message reading:
File: A view of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum during the closing ceremony of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles on Aug. 12, 1984. The scoreboard has a message reading: "Good luck to the athletes of the world."
Steve Powell/Getty Images

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Los Angeles, which hosted the Summer Olympics in 1932 and 1984, will be home to the Games again — in 2028.

Both L.A. and Paris were expected to be awarded either 2024 or 2028 after the International Olympic Committee decided earlier this month it would pick the hosts for both years at the same time. Paris was widely seen as the favorite for 2024.

Speaking with reporters at a soccer stadium in Carson, just outside L.A., Mayor Eric Garcetti said the 2028 proposal was the better of the two, promising to bring hundreds of millions of dollars in additional benefits.

"I am proud to announce that the Olympic Games are coming back to the United States of America," Garcetti said during the official announcement. "The Games in 2028 will give us the seed of a new Olympic legacy, here in Los Angeles, and around the world."

"Give us all a round of applause — this is a great day!" Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson said at the event. "For us, this is our gold medal."

Wesson invited several of his fellow council members up to celebrate with him.

The organizers of L.A.'s Olympics bid had originally been pursuing the 2024 games. But they ceded those games to Paris, and agreed to wait for the next round.

L.A. will be only the second city to host the modern Olympics three times. London became the first three-time Olympic City in 2012.

With just two cities left, and a general sense of international Olympic-hosting apathy, the International Olympic Committee saw a chance to book two summers at once — and put off the next round of bids for a few years.

As for which city got which games, there were several factors at play. Paris last hosted the Games in 1924, which made it a "sentimental favorite" for the 2024 games, as KPCC's Ben Bergman noted last month. And Paris only had funding secured to build facilities for 2024.

"L.A.'s bid uses existing facilities, making it far more flexible and cheaper," Bergman reported. "It won't need to build any new permanent venues."

The Los Angeles City Council and U.S. Olympic Committee board of directors will consider the agreement in August. If approved, the IOC, LA and Paris could enter a three-part agreement, clearing the way for the IOC to award the 2024 Games to Paris, and the 2028 Games to LA. The IOC vote is scheduled for September, in Lima, Peru.

In a statement, the Paris bid committee welcomed the announcement in Los Angeles but stopped short of confirming the obvious, that Paris is in line for the 2024 Games.

"Paris 2024 is proud to be working together with the IOC and our friends in Los Angeles to reach a positive solution for both cities, the Games and the whole Olympic Movement for 2024 and 2028," committee co-chair Tony Estanguet said.

In embracing what amounted to the second-place prize and an 11-year wait, L.A. will receive a financial sweetener.

Under the terms of the deal, the IOC will advance funds to the Los Angeles organizing committee to recognize the extended planning period and to increase youth sports programs leading up to the Games. The IOC contribution could exceed $2 billion, according to LA officials. That figure takes into account the estimated value of existing sponsor agreements that would be renewed, as well as potential new marketing deals.

The delay to 2028 opens a host of questions for Los Angeles, which is looking at the prospect of retooling its multibillion-dollar plans for more than a decade into the future. It would face challenges from maintaining public interest to recasting deals for stadiums, arenas and housing that have been in the works for months and even years.

The deal "was too good to pass up," Garcetti said.

He also suggested the IOC would easily ratify the 2024-2028 deal in September.

L.A. and Paris were the last two bids remaining after a tumultuous process that exposed the unwillingness of cities to bear the financial burden of hosting an event that has become synonymous with cost overruns.

L.A. was not even the first American entrant in the contest. Boston withdrew two years ago as public support for its bid collapsed over concerns about use of taxpayer cash. The U.S. bid switched from the east to the West Coast as L.A. entered the race.

But the same apprehensions that spooked politicians and the local population in Boston soon became evident in Europe where three cities pulled out.

Uncomfortably for IOC President Thomas Bach, whose much-vaunted Agenda 2020 reforms were designed to make hosting more streamlined and less costly after the lavish 2014 Sochi Games, the first withdrawal came from his homeland of Germany.

The lack of political unity for a bid in Hamburg was mirrored in Rome and Budapest as support for bids waned among local authorities and the population. It was clear they did not want to be saddled with skyrocketing bills for hosting the Olympics without reaping many of the economic benefits anticipated.

Just like in the depleted field for the 2022 Winter Games which saw Beijing defeat Almaty, the IOC was left with only two candidates again.

With two powerful cities left vying for 2024, Bach realized France or the U.S. could be deterred from going through another contest for 2028 if they lost. Bach floated the idea in December of making revisions to the bidding process to prevent it producing "too many losers," building support that led to LA and Paris being able to figure out themselves how to share the 2024 and 2028 Games.

The dual award of the games relieves the IOC of having to test the global interest in hosting the Summer Olympics for several years until the 2032 Games are up for grabs.

The next summer games will be held in Tokyo in 2020. Upcoming Winter Olympics will be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, next year, and in Beijing in 2022.

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This story has been updated.