(ATR) Leaders of the Los Angeles bid for the 2024 Olympics are soaking up the praise in the IOC Evaluation Commission report released today.
Los Angeles and rival Paris both received excellent reviews from the commission which visited the cities in May. IOC commission chair described both as "outstanding".
"LA 2024 is absolutely thrilled," proclaimed bid chairman Casey Wasserman in a conference call with media to react to the IOC report.
Paris did not schedule a press briefing to comment on the report. But a spokesman was able to provide answers to questions posed by ATR for use in a separate story about the Paris section of the IOC report.
Both cities, of course, will be in the spotlight next week when teams from Los Angeles and Paris travel to Lausanne, Switzerland. The bids will present themselves to the IOC membership in a daylong briefing July 12.
Wasserman was joined by Gene Sykes, bid CEO. Both said the IOC report contained no surprises for Los Angeles, viewing it as a validation of the work that’s been done to prepare this bid.
Still Wasserman did seem a little surprised that the report quoted members of the IOC commission using the word "cool" to describe their experience in Los Angeles in May. Wasserman said he was proud that it might be the first time that adjective had been used in an IOC document to describe a bid city.
From the opening comments that describe the bid as aligned with the long-term development of the city, the IOC commission is liberal with its praise and short on criticism. While 15 so-called "challenges" face Los Angeles according to the commission, none would appear to be a games breaker.
The first challenge mentioned involves whether columns and other structural changes at the existing velodrome are practical and suitable. Wasserman says LA is ready to engage all the parties involved to figure out the best course of action. Nearly all the venues – 97% – are existing for Los Angeles.
The most serious challenge seems to be the comments about the legendary traffic of Los Angeles.
"Strong public transport plans would be needed to facilitate spectator travel between Sports Parks," the report says. Los Angeles proposes four distinct clusters of venues as well as standalone venues scattered throughout the metropolitan area.
"We feel very comfortable with the plan we’ve delivered around transport. Look I think there is plenty of public transport capacity without risking existing travelers," Wasserman says.
"So we feel very comfortable about being able to deliver millions of millions of fans to our sports parks around the city using the public transport in place as its currently funded and under construction in the city," says Wasserman.
The only concern raised in the report on the plan to use dormitories at the University of California at Los Angeles as the Olympic and Paralympic Village involved access by Paralympians. The report suggested steep inclines in the neighborhood could pose an issue. Sykes assures that the UCLA dorms are "100% accessible".
The IOC commission observes that "No official structure in place for interface between OCOG and public authorities at regional, state and national levels to coordinate government services."
Wasserman answers that there is a need for a government relations team to work with all levels of government. But he says from the city to national levels, Los Angeles is already well represented .
"Obviously we have a formal agreement with the LA city for significant representation on our board from the city and we’ll continue to engage with the city in the entirety of the process in a consistent public way. I just think it’s part of the leading nature of our bid and I think we’ve proven our ability to sustain engagement with government at all levels in this process and I have no doubt that will continue through the OCOG process," he says.
While Los Angeles says the Olympics will generate increased levels of sport participation in the U.S., the report notes that "at this stage, no targets set for increased sports participation, which would make it difficult to measure achievements," the report says. To contrast, the IOC comments on the same issue for Paris say that the target of 80% sport participation in France as a result of the Olympics may be too ambitious.
The report also cautions that LA may need to take extra step for test events in sports which are not widely practiced in the U.S. The report also says more awareness of Paralympic sport was needed in the U.S.
But as a rule Los Angeles easily wins the favor of the IOC commission as does Paris.
"Overall, the OCOG budget is feasible and the financial risk is low for this stage of planning and budget development," says the report regarding the $5.3 billion LA operating budget.
The report says Los Angeles has the means to generate even more revenue than forecast.
"US market for sponsorship, tickets and licensed merchandise provides considerable opportunity to exceed budget revenues," says the report.
On security the report indicates the current threat in Los Angeles ranges between low and medium. By the time of the Olympics the risk level is anticipated to reach "very low". Even earthquakes don’t scare the IOC inspectors. The report advises that construction and infrastructure are designed in Los Angeles to deal with such phenomena.
With a minuscule construction program, the IOC says there is "No significant risk of environmental, cultural or social impacts from venue construction". The report also says no businesses or homes will need to be displaced to make room for the Games, as has been the problem in Rio and Sochi, for example.
Regardless of the seeming certainty that the IOC will choose to fill the hosts for 2024 and 2028 Summer Games when it votes in September, Wasserman says the focus of this campaign remains on 2024. That’s what he says LA will try to get across next week in Lausanne when it presents to the IOC members.
"Our approach is going to remain consistent which is, this is a meant to be a technical presentation. Our ability to show off our technical ability as a host for the Olympic games is enough opportunity to tell our story in a unique and creative and innovative way," says Wasserman.
Sykes says the key for Los Angeles is to be "cool".
"The IOC Evaluation Commission declared that LA is Cool which we all know it is," he says. "We want to make the same impression on the members that we made on the evaluation commission. This is our chance".
Reported by Ed Hula III.