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Casey Wasserman on LA's Olympic bid: ‘Once in a lifetime opportunity’




RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 09:  International Olympic Committe President Thomas Bach watches a presentation by Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti and Chairman of the LA 2024 Casey Wasserman at the USA House on August 3, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 09: International Olympic Committe President Thomas Bach watches a presentation by Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti and Chairman of the LA 2024 Casey Wasserman at the USA House on August 3, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

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While everyone's buzzing about Sunday night's Oscar telecast, there's another big contest involving the city of Los Angeles...the city's bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics.

For more than a decade now, work has been underway to bring the Games back to L.A. And now it's down to just Los Angeles and one other contender. But it's a tough one: Paris.

For the next seven months both cities will be trying to impress the Olympic organizers, who won't announce their pick until this September.

So, what is Los Angeles doing to win?

We got ahold of the man who's been spearheading the LA2024 movement, Casey Wasserman. He spoke to A Martinez about the state of the bid, President Trump's effect and more.

Interview Highlights

What difference does it make in L.A.'s bid now that Budapest has withdrawn?

"It doesn't change our approach. Our approach is to reign focus on our job and talking about merits of our bid in Los Angeles. I guess if you want to be an Olympic voting nerd you would say that maybe the dynamic of two European cities, multiple rounds of voting might change what would happen. But you know with a head to head battle we'll have one round of voting which is unique for the most part in Olympic bidding history..."

You started this process a long time ago, how has the election of Donald Trump created any challenges for the U.S. bid?

"We're in constant communication with the administration and we think ultimately bids are best when they're not political. Our bid is not a political bid, it's a private bid, it has a partnership with both the city of Los Angeles and the state of California. The administration has been positive and supportive to date and we hope to continue that support because they're an important piece of the puzzle, but unlike other bids and other countries we're not a government agency, we're not reliant on the whims of the federal government or city or state governments and I think that's a huge competitive advantage in this really challenging and interesting time we're living in."

Did that original travel ban throw a wrench in things for you? Did you have to explain it to the IOC? 

"Yeah, what they're worried about is their ability and their member's ability and their athlete's ability to travel and compete around the world freely and fairly. To that end the administration understood that this could create some confusion and was quick to remedy that and has done a really good job of helping facilitate those athlete's entries to the United States."

Trump has yet to sign another executive order limiting travel and immigration. He promises he will though. How does the committee plan on handling that when that comes about?

"We've worked through this issue in terms of our ability to help facilitate a competing teams into the country and again, we're going to be telling the story of Los Angeles, again a non-political bid. We like to remind people that our host city guarantee will be signed by the city of Los Angeles. We have a back up guarantee from the state of California. Obviously there's federal government engagement but we're unique in the Olympic bidding world, it has nothing to do with this administration. It's the way the U.S. has always bid for games..."

If it doesn't work out and Paris gets the bid, would you get a head start on 2028?

"Absolutely not. My view is this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. The U.S. bids are unique in that we are privately funded so we've had to raise a substantial amount of money privately from people in Los Angeles and this is the third consecutive American bid after New York and Chicago and I don't believe that I could or we could raise the money again in Los Angeles to mount a successful bid. And I'm not sure that after the three largest cities in America would've lost on consecutive bids...that maybe we need to take a deep breath and learn our lessons and try to figure out what we'd be doing wrong and take a reset..."

To listen to the entire interview, click on the blue play button above.