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Interview: Garcetti says LA can be winning Olympic model

NEWS
News
23   //    25 Jul 2018, 18:50 IST
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TOKYO (AP) — In an era when many cities are hesitant to bid for the Olympics, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is convinced his city has a winning formula to make the games a success.

"I think it is a rational thing for most cities not to bid for the Olympics these days because it is an immense cost for most places," Garcetti said in an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday. "But we have a different model. Instead of trying to fit the city into the Olympics, we ask the Olympics to fit into our city."

A driving force behind the campaign to bring the Olympics back to Los Angeles for a third time, Garcetti was speaking in Tokyo where he signed a cooperative agreement on Wednesday with the organizers of the 2020 Olympics.

Following the withdrawal of several cities in the bidding process for the 2024 Games, the International Olympic Committee decided to jointly award the 2024 and 2028 games to the only two cities remaining — Paris and Los Angeles.

An agreement was reached whereby Los Angeles would bid for the 2028 Games with $2 billion of additional funding from the IOC. This cleared the way for Paris to be confirmed as the 2024 host. Both cities were formally announced as hosts at an IOC session in Lima, Peru, in September 2017.

Tokyo organizers have estimated their cost for the 2020 Games at $12.6 billion. Los Angeles has proposed a $5.3 billion budget for the 2028 Games by relying on the region's many existing stadiums and arenas, including the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and Staples Center.

The bulk of the revenue for the LA Games is expected to come from ticket sales and corporate sponsorships.

The 2028 Olympics will halt a stretch of 32 years without a Summer Games in the United States, since Atlanta in 1996. LA hosted the games in 1932 and 1984, and Garcetti has pledged the next version will be just as successful.

"The Olympics have been an amazing part of Los Angeles' history," Garcetti said. "In many ways in 1932, they put us on the map when people didn't even know where Los Angeles was. In 1984, they were the first profitable Olympics of the modern era.

"We want to do what a lot of cities hope to do, but are never able to, which is to leave behind a human legacy — not just a few buildings which may or may not be used."

That's not to suggest there won't be hurdles to overcome.

Traffic could be a problem - it almost always is in LA - but the city will be well along in its multibillion-dollar transit upgrade by 2028.

"10 years from now I think people will begin to see a transformed Los Angeles," Garcetti said. "The car capital of the world will no longer be a car-only place. We have a new rail line that will be opening up to the airport, by then a subway that will take you from the west part of Los Angeles all the way to downtown in 20 minutes. People will have options finally."

Garcetti's term will have come to an end long before the 2028 Games but that hasn't dampened his determination to see the city transformed, saying there will be "a willingness to test new modes of technology and transportation."

Garcetti added: "We could potentially see new underground modes of transit together with Elon Musk and the Boring company he has. We're partnering with Uber and many companies to take a look at vertical takeoff and landing electric drones that essentially can carry people."

And for critics who say money should be put to other uses, Garcetti said Los Angeles is not spending any taxpayer money on the Olympics and claimed the city is already reaping the financial benefits of the games.

"We negotiated for the first time historically money for the Olympics before they start," Garcetti said. "Not just to run the organizing of them but for the legacy. We negotiated $160 million by going second after Paris and that money started flowing this year."

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