RIO DE JANEIRO—Los Angeles leaders pitched their bid Tuesday for the 2024 Olympics as a “risk-free” project that requires little construction and could produce a financial surplus.
“Our Olympic infrastructure is already in the ground, not on the drawing boards,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a news conference. “We are virtually risk-free because we only have to build one venue to host the games. Instead of construction anxieties for the next seven years, we can focus on what’s important.”
Los Angeles is seeking to host the Olympics for a third time and bring the Summer Games back to the United States for the first time since Atlanta hosted the event in 1996.
Los Angeles is competing against Paris, Rome and Budapest, Hungary. All four bid cities have sent leaders to Brazil to observe the Rio de Janeiro Games and lobby IOC members, who will select the host city in September 2017.
The buildup to the Rio Games was hit hard by Brazil’s political and economic crises and late scramble to complete the venues. The early days of South America’s first games have also faced serious logistical and organizational issues, including crime, empty seats and transportation problems.
Separately, scared off by the $51 billion overall price tag associated with the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, several cities dropped out of the bidding for the 2020, 2022 and 2024 Olympics for financial or political reasons.
Against that backdrop, Los Angeles sought to portray itself as a safe, trouble-free choice that can allow IOC members to rest easy.
Garcetti cited a recent independent poll that put local support for the bid at 88 percent.
“Sunshine polls only 84 percent,” he quipped.
Bid leaders made it a point to note that the 1984 Los Angeles Games, run by Peter Ueberroth, produced a profit of $225 million.
“We’re very confident that our plan reduces risks dramatically and can produce a profit for the city,” bid chairman Casey Wasserman said. “Our job is to deliver a fiscally responsible budget.”
New York failed in a bid for the 2012 Olympics, and Chicago was rejected for the 2016 Games. Both results reflected anti-American sentiment within the European-dominated IOC and tensions over revenue-sharing with the USOC.
“This is our third bid and best bid since 2005, and the 20th time America has stepped forward to offer to host the games,” USOC chief Larry Probst said. “We have learned many valuable lessons from our previous bids. Now America is ready to move forward.”
Probst said USOC leaders have traveled the world in recent years to improve ties with international Olympic officials.
“We have to be humble and hard-working and do our best to build relationships and friendships with IOC members,” he said.
The result of the U.S. presidential election in November could have a big impact on IOC members, who are unlikely to consider Donald Trump’s comments on Mexicans, Muslims and other immigrants as offering a warm welcome to the world for the Olympics. Garcetti said in an interview Saturday with The Associated Press that if Trump wins, some IOC members would say, “Wait a second. Can we go to a country like that, where we’ve heard things that we take offense to?'”
Asked about the issue at Tuesday’s news conference, the mayor said the bid “does not depend on any election.”
“I think IOC members might have said certain things, but as I mentioned, an America that turns inward, like any country that turns inward, isn’t good for world peace, isn’t good for progress, isn’t good for all of us,” Garcetti said.
“No matter what the outcome,” he added, “we will continue.”