In the end it wasn’t such a big surprise. With Los Angeles declaring its candidature for 2028, they have effectively paved the way for Paris, the only remaining candidate, to host the Games of the XXXIII Olympiad, four years earlier. As mentioned before (see: A giant leap for the IOC, small steps for mankind) I am not entirely convinced of this kind of host city ‘election’, but in the end it was apparently the only thing the IOC could do, and finally seeing such a disastrous election process as this one come to an end (officially the IOC session in Lima next month will still have a say, but that should be a mere formality) is some sort of a relief.
Los Angeles cannot really be called the loser in this ‘contest’. While not being allowed to host in seven years, they now have a guarantee that they will host the next Games, something no other candidate has ever achieved. In fact, losing consecutive elections is not uncommon (ask Istanbul or Madrid…). And on top of it all, LA will receive a tiny little bonus of $ 2bn. 2 billion Dollars! The money won’t go into the pockets of the candidature committee, any other individuals, companies or political entities, to be certain. That would of course be bribery, and it would be a massive scandal that would threaten the last bits of integrity and credibility on behalve of the IOC.
But in fact the money is aimed for a much better cause. To develop, finance and implement sports programmes and sports infrastructure for young people in LA and California. You may say: OK, nice! But the Americans should be able to finance such programmes themselves, shouldn’t they? We’re talking about the United States, after all, on of the richest countries in the world. And shouldn’t the IOC be investing in development programmes in African or Latin American countries instead?
You’re probably right. These issues are worth discussing. And 2 billion Dollars for youth sports programmes… I mean, wow, sounds a bit like golden basketball hoops, doesn’t it? OK, hold on, it’s not that much really. When we look into the details of this ‘deal’ (I have no better word for it, sorry…), we can see that the bulk of the money will be directed to the staging of the Games. Youth sports programmes will benefit, but not to the extent publicized by some media lately. And Paris will get some money as well, only some $ 300 million less, but they should be able to cope with that…
Still, $ 160 million (that’s the number we should be talking about) for youth sports programmes in an American metropolis seems quite a lot.
But let’s not forget two things:
- Yes, we are talking about the US. A country, like many other in what we call ‘the western world’, with a lot of money and a lot of debt, where money isn’t always spent for reasonable purposes, such as health care or environmental protection, but rather for weapon systems or building a wall on their southern border… So, it seems rather plausible that they should be able to mount a successful campaign to host the world’s biggest and arguably most expensive sporting event, while at the same time not being able to provide for sports programmes for their children, doesn’t it? OK, I’m being a bit harsh and potentially even unfair here. These discrepancies exist in many countries, with Germany certainly not being an exception to this (if you leave out the wall, at least…). And LA 2028 is not responsible for the policies drafted and implemented in Washington D.C., Sacramento or even the City of Los Angeles itself. All I want, is to give you something to think about, something to keep an eye on, once the actual beneficiaries of the $ 160 million will be made public. I encourage you to follow these developments carefully, especially if you are living in LA or the US in general. If spent for appropriate causes in a transparent manner, this could be a golden opportunity for the ‘City of Angels’, for California, for America’s youth.
- The IOC does spend an enormous amount of money for sports development programmes in many countries around the world. In fact it is one of the biggest factors in its entire budget. Through its own initiatives and in co-operation with UNHCR, UNICEF, WHO and many other international and non-governmental organizations, the IOC, International Federations and NOCs put a lot of effort in what can be described as one of the most successful and valuable, yet publicly least known aspects of the Movement. The IOC is far from being a poor organization. They might not use their money wisely in all cases either, but if they have it and decide to spend it for such a good purpose, without diverting it from other channels, why not?
So, after all, Paris has won the 2024 Olympics. But LA is not a loser, not even ‘in second place’. They will now have four more years (oh, and $ 2bn…) to further develop their ideas and stage outstanding, unforgettable Games in the ‘City of Stars’, on the beach in Malibu, in the Hollywood Hills, and in that iconic and so immensely beautiful Memorial Coliseum. And I have not a single doubt in my mind: They will deliver!
PS. In one of my next articles, I shall go a little bit more into detail on what we can expect from Paris 2024. Having read the candidature file I can tell you: It’s going to be vraiment magnifique!