September 1, 2015 / 1:13 PM / 2 years ago

Los Angeles named U.S. bid candidate for 2024 Games

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Los Angeles was officially selected on Tuesday as the American candidate city that will bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics after Boston pulled out of the race in July, the U.S. Olympic Committee said.

The Los Angeles downtown skyline is pictured August 22, 2011. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Los Angeles, which has hosted the Summer Games twice before, in 1932 and 1984, will be among the front-runners and joins a race that includes heavy favourite Paris, Rome, Budapest and Hamburg.

“It is my distinct honour today to formerly name the city of Los Angeles as the U.S. bid city to host the 2024 Olympics,” USOC Chief Executive Officer Scott Blackmun told a news conference held just off the beach front in Santa Monica.

The final obstacle facing the city’s candidacy was cleared earlier Tuesday when the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to pursue a bid for the 2024 Games, giving Los Angeles the chance to become the only city besides London to host the Olympics three times.

The resolution adopted on a 15-0 vote by the council allows the city to negotiate financial terms of a hosting deal and bow out if it cannot reach agreement with Olympic officials.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will elect a winning bid in September 2017.

“LA has the proven experience in hosting the Games, and knows how to deliver world-class events for athletes and an extraordinary experience for fans,” Blackmun said in a statement.

“Coupled with the city’s culture of creativity and innovation, we are confident LA can deliver an outstanding Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2024.”

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said: ”Today, I am proud to officially launch our bid in partnership with the USOC as we aim to bring the Olympic and Paralympic Games back to the U.S. for the first time in 28 years.

“It is an honour for any city to host the Olympic Games, and Los Angeles is uniquely prepared for this task. With the unanimous support of our City Council, we are ready to serve and strengthen the Olympic Movement and build a new Olympic legacy.”

The USOC had been under pressure to find another potential host with the IOC having set a Sept. 15 deadline for interested cities to submit a letter of intent.

EARLY HOT FAVOURITE

Los Angeles had initially been considered the hot favourite to become the U.S. candidate city ahead of the other finalists Boston, Washington and San Francisco.

But the USOC in January opted for Boston and the bid seemed doomed from the start as public support for the Massachusetts capital eroded.

Officials took Boston out of contention, the city’s mayor saying he did not want to expose municipal taxpayers to the potential tab for mammoth cost overruns the games have left other host cities.

However, the USOC said it had conducted several polls in the Los Angeles area to gauge enthusiasm for another run at a Summer Games and found overwhelming support.

Los Angeles represents a possibly thrifty choice, in large part because officials say most prospective event venues for the games already exist, including Memorial Coliseum, which will be 101 years old in 2024.

The group LA24, formed to pursue an Olympic bid, has put the total estimated costs of hosting the Summer Games at $5.8 billion and has committed to generating $4.1 billion of the total.

The rest would be left for private sources to raise, including an estimated $925 million to build a new Olympic Village to house the athletes.

Councilman Felipe Fuentes said his continued support hinged on municipal officials maintaining a say over expenditures.

Boston’s removal from the 2024 race proved an embarrassment for both the USOC and IOC, which has seen a troubling drop in cities interested in hosting a Games.

After four different candidates from Europe bidding for the 2022 Winter Games dropped out, mostly because of concerns over costs, the IOC was left with a choice between unlikely bids from Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan, before finally settling on the Chinese capital.

The IOC made it clear that it expected the U.S. to bid for the 2024 Games and at recent meetings in Kuala Lumpur did not hide its disappointment over the Boston fiasco.

Rio de Janeiro will host the Summer Games next year with Tokyo holding the event for a second time in 2020.

Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis and Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Steve Gorman, Eric Beech and Frank Pingue

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