The International Olympic Committee has made (or as good as made) their final decisions about upcoming Summer Olympic Games and the “lucky” cities which will get to host them in 2024 and 2028. I suppose it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that they are returning to cities which have rather famously hosted them in the past, specifically Los Angeles and Paris. But as the LA Times indicates this week, there’s still some wrangling to be done over who will go second.
Los Angeles is all but guaranteed to host the Summer Games for a third time after Olympic leaders made the unusual decision Tuesday to name two winners in the bid race between L.A. and Paris, giving 2024 to one city and 2028 to the other.
After the historic vote by International Olympic Committee members gathered in Switzerland, one key question remained.
Can the cities agree on who goes second?
“We’re one step closer to making it happen,” L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti told reporters at a news conference in Lausanne. “I have full confidence we will get there.”
There’s talk of financial “concessions” to L.A. if they are willing to wait and go in 2028 so Paris can have the 2024 slot. (Tokyo is already set to host 2020.) None of it is written in stone yet, but it’s looking more and more like this is going to happen.
So somebody apparently thought this was a good idea. Even President Trump was tweeting about working to try to bring the games to L.A. Have we learned nothing in recent years? Forget for a moment the ongoing stories of scandals plaguing the IOC. (Last year, National Review’s Josh Gelernter described it as an orgy of corruption and dishonesty.) The recent history of the Olympics hasn’t been pretty for the cities which host it. Estimates for the cost are inexact to say the least, but it will be measured in the tens of billions of dollars. (How far in debt is California again right now?) Expectations of a big payout rarely if ever bear fruit. Keep in mind that Rio didn’t even finish all of their stadiums and other facilities on time or budget and they still managed to lose an estimated $50M on the deal.
I was chatting offline with Ed Morrissey (who was around for the last L.A. games in 1984) and he reminded me that L.A. won’t have to build nearly as much new infrastructure for this effort as some other cities. There will be a new NFL stadium by then and they already have the Staples Center, the Colosseum, UCLA and USC to draw on. Fair enough. But they’re still going to have to build some of it and none of this is going to be cheap. Construction of new stadiums isn’t the only expense associated with hosting the games.
But even if we push aside financial concerns, what’s going to be happening in the summer of 2024 or 2028? We’ll be in the final heat of a presidential election both times. And that means that the usual list of suspects will show up to host massive protest marches over whatever the outrage of the week happens to be then and shut down the city. The anarchists will be out in force as well because, well… they always are. And if L.A. does happen to go in 2024 and Donald Trump is still in office, oh man. Don’t even get me started. It’s not as if L.A. isn’t already a national center for rioting to begin with. It’s going to be off the hook, and the security precautions will be daunting.
And for what? The games can go on anywhere without bringing this circus to town and setting us up for a huge black eye. There have been several proposals made in recent years which would move the Olympics back to Greece permanently in an Olympic village which never closes down. It would be in keeping with the tradition origins of games and all of the participating nations could kick in a far smaller amount every year just for maintenance and permanent security details. Athletes from around the world could train there year round. And we wouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel every four years.
I’m sure it’s too late to get out of this now, but it just sounds like a bad idea which is far past its time. Good luck, Los Angeles. Just don’t ask the rest of us to bail you out if this entire thing goes pear shaped on you.