LOS ANGELES—Los Angeles is set to host the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games, after the city council approved on Dec. 3 an agreement with LA28, the Games organizing committee.
The city council voted 11–2 in favor of the agreement, with Councilmembers Nithya Raman and Mike Bonin disagreeing.
The Olympics are expected to cost the organizing committee almost $7 billion. According to the agreement, if there is a deficit, the city is expected to pay the first $270 million, and the state will take over the next $270 million.
If those funds run out, the city needs to cover the remaining costs. LA28 would need city approval to access those funds, however.
City Administrative Officer Matt Szabo and Chief Legislative Analyst Sharon Tso told the councilmembers before the Dec. 3 vote that while it is impossible to eliminate all risks, the city has done its best to minimize them.
“At the end of the day, we’re trying to protect against any fiscal shortfalls,” Tso said.
Bonin voiced his concern about the financial risk of hosting the Olympics. There would always be a risk, he said, but he wanted it to be what he is “comfortable with.”
“The thing I keep coming back to is that we’re agreeing that we’re going to assume financial responsibility, but we’re not keeping the power to dictate on some of these value-driven issues ancillary to the Olympics but vital to our neighborhoods,” Bonin said.
Raman asked how inclusion and support for local businesses are considered in the working groups implementing the Olympics.
Szabo said that though a specific plan has not yet been detailed, he hoped Los Angeles would have an economic boost as a result of the Olympics.
The agreement states that LA28 will develop and implement a program to ensure that small, local, and underrepresented businesses can participate in contract opportunities with the Olympics, and work with the city to ensure that the workforce is “fully representative of the diversity of Los Angeles.”
During the council meeting, some Angelenos called in, voicing their support for the agreement.
Brian Williams of Los Angeles Urban League said, “From the perspective of the South LA and minority communities that we serve, the Games Agreement as modified, we’re confident [the Olympics] will bring economic benefits and jobs to our community.”
Several callers from the Valley Industry & Commerce Association said the agreement will create “good-paying jobs” in the San Fernando Valley and “put the valley and the city on the map.”
John Moffitt, a swimmer who competed in the 1984 Olympic Games, is also optimistic. “[It’s about creating the] next generation of Olympians and Paralympians,” he said.
Some residents, however, asked the council to vote against the agreement, and some accused the previous supportive callers of being a part of interest groups or people being paid to call in.
“The Olympics is going to be a disaster,” one caller said. “The only people calling in favor are predatory business groups, not actual people. I have not spoken to one single Angeleno who actually wants these Games.”
Another caller said, “Please don’t hand the city over to private organizations, corporations to displace people in the name of luxury housing and so much more, including environmental genocide.”
Some local activists, including the organization NOlympics LA, argued that the 2028 Olympics will accelerate displacement and “militarize” police in the city amid their calls to “defund the police.”
NOlympics LA expressed their concerns, in their analysis of the agreement, that the Olympics will accelerate gentrification, criminalize homelessness, and privatize public space.
LA28 plans to develop strategies for public safety and human rights protection in the next seven years leading up to the Olympics.
NOlympics, however, was skeptical about the lack of a “human rights working group” and described LA28’s plan to release a human rights strategy in 2024 as an “afterthought” because it would be long after the Olympic bids were approved in 2017.