Sun, Apr 02, 2017 - Page 11 News List

LA 2024 says no IOC ultimatum will be issued


LA 2024 chairman Casey Wasserman speaks to reporters in Los Angeles on Friday.

Photo: AFP

The head of the Los Angeles bid for the 2024 Olympics on Friday ruled out issuing an ultimatum to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), taking a veiled swipe at rival city Paris as the battle for the Games heats up.

LA 2024 chairman Casey Wasserman told reporters in an interview that IOC moves to explore the possibility of awarding both the 2024 and 2028 Summer Games at the same time at a vote in September were “absolutely right.”

However, while Wasserman argued forcefully that Los Angeles was the best candidate for 2024, he stopped short of issuing an ultimatum.

Paris co-chairman Tony Estanguet last week warned that it was “now or never” for the French capital and that if the city’s tilt at 2024 was not successful “we will not come back for 2028.”

“Now or never sounds like an ultimatum to me,” Wasserman told reporters at his Los Angeles office. “I have been in business a long time. I never had a successful relationship or partnership with any entity by issuing an ultimatum.”

“We will not issue an ultimatum,” he said.

Wasserman was speaking amid intense speculation concerning the race for 2024, which is to be decided at an IOC vote in Lima on Sept. 13.

The IOC is looking at the option of awarding two Olympics at once to capitalize on the Paris and Los Angeles bids at a time when fewer cities are willing to take on the financial and logistical responsibilities of staging an Olympic Games.

“It’s exactly the kind of idea and strategic initiative the IOC should be thinking about, but if you take a step back, if you look at the strategic rationale, it points to the importance and the necessity of LA going first,” Wasserman said.

LA’s bid, which would require no major infrastructure projects or venue construction, making use of existing facilities, offered the prospect of “calm and stability” for the Olympic movement, Wasserman said.

“No political interference, tremendous support from our citizens, no capital projects, no budget overruns. That’s LA. And that calms and creates stability,” Wasserman said.

Pressed on whether there was any scenario in which Los Angeles officials might consider staging the games in 2028, Wasserman said the city remained focused only on 2024.

“No one’s a candidate for 2028. I think that’s a hypothetical and it’s not worth discussing. The IOC’s got a process. We’ve had no conversations with the IOC about that process. We don’t know what their intent is,” he said. “We don’t know what their approach is going to be, so for anyone to comment on 2028 is premature.”

There had also been no discussions with the IOC about the possibility of a joint 2024/2028 award.

“They’ve not reached out to us. Other than the public statements they’ve made, we’ve had nothing,” he said.

With the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics mired in corruption allegations and questions raised about white elephant venues that have been left to rot, the stakes for the IOC could not be higher as it ponders its choice for 2024.

Wasserman said the Olympic movement was at a “turning point.”

“The next host of the Olympics had better get it right. I don’t think the Olympic movement wants to be put in a position of having seven more years of the kind of challenges they have had in the past,” Wasserman said. “The Olympics deserves better, the movement deserves better.”

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