Los Angeles 2024
LA 2024

Los Angeles could land Olympic Games, but which year?

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Leaders in Los Angeles will guide their International Olympic Committee guests from the Hollywood Hills to Santa Monica Beach to a construction site that will someday be a $2.6 billion NFL stadium that can also host soccer games.

If this week’s tour is a success, Los Angeles will earn the chance to host its third Olympics.

But which Olympics?

Officially, Los Angeles and Paris are the only two bidders left for the 2024 Games that will be awarded in September at a meeting of Olympic leaders in Lima, Peru. On the table, however, is a proposal to use that meeting to dole out the next two Olympics – 2024 and 2028 – one to each city.

IOC President Thomas Bach said he wants to avoid producing so many losers in the multimillion-dollar Olympic-bidding game. Unsaid is Bach’s need to avoid another bidding debacle, similar to the 2024 contest, if the rules remain the same for 2028.

The 2024 race began with five cities, but slowly, awkwardly, tapered down to two, after Rome; Hamburg, Germany; and Budapest, Hungary; all pulled out. And that’s not including the embarrassment the U.S. Olympic Committee suffered when its first candidate city, Boston, stepped aside because of tepid – or, some might say, barely existent – public support.

Like Paris, Los Angeles is sticking to the party line, insisting it is in the mix only for 2024.

“Los Angeles is the right city for 2024 at this important time for the Olympic Movement and is only bidding for 2024,” LA 2024 Chairman Casey Wasserman said.

The 2024-28 issue is hardly the only unpredictable factor in a bidding process that has grown more confusing, even as the number of candidates dwindled.

MORE: Paris 2024 bid welcomes new French president Emmanuel Macron

A look at the key issues Los Angeles faces as it hosts the evaluation visit Tuesday through Friday:

POLITICS: When President Donald Trump first issued his executive order temporarily banning refugees and immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries, it threw some Olympic sports into flux: Namely, the U.S. wrestling team was scheduled for a trip to Iran, which was one of the banned countries.

That issue was worked out, and Trump’s order is stalled in court, but his presence will certainly be felt.

“Both countries have a lot going on politically that can be game-changers at any minute,” said Jules Boykoff, a professor at Pacific University in Oregon who has written widely on the Olympics movement.

When centrist Emmanuel Macron defeated far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in France’s presidential election, it took some uncertainty out of the Paris bid. Meanwhile, Trump’s populist, “America-first” message is hardly the arms-wide-open stance the Olympics embrace. And yet, for his part, Trump is backing the bid, certainly knowing this is the kind of win he’d love to be a part of – the U.S. hasn’t hosted a Summer Games since 1996 – even if he plays a nominal role.

COST: Los Angeles is pledging to stage the Games for a grand total of $5.3 billion, which would be around one-third of what Tokyo is expected to spend for 2020. It’s a claim that speaks to Bach’s mandate to keep costs down and stop spending billions on stadiums that don’t get used much once the Olympics end.

A strong point of the Los Angeles bid, certain to be showcased during the visit, is that 95 percent of the proposed venues are already built, including the Los Angeles Coliseum, which would host the opening ceremonies, same as it did in 1932 and 1984.

TRAFFIC: The 2016 cinematic tribute to the sort of dreams that can come true in Los Angeles, “La La Land,” opened, fittingly enough, with a musical number taking place amid gridlocked cars on the freeway during rush hour. That traffic is as much a symbol of LA as the “Hollywood” sign or the NBA’s Lakers, and it’s certain officials will do their best to keep their guests far away from the snarls this week.

The bid promises to bring 100 percent of ticketed spectators to competition sites by public transportation or systems designed for spectators, such as shuttle buses. There are also memories of 1984, when traffic wasn’t much of a problem in part because many of the locals left town or stayed off the freeways.

MORE: Los Angeles will not renew Olympic bid if it loses this summer

ENTHUSIASM: Time and again bid leaders have touted a poll, conducted by Loyola Marymount University, which found 88 percent of respondents wanted Los Angeles to host the Olympics.

As the vote and any potential Games get closer, those numbers will certainly change.

Already in question is an LA24 claim that more than 1 million Facebook users said they wanted to see the Olympics in Los Angeles.

A report prepared for The Associated Press last month found that Los Angeles saw an explosion of support over a six-week period from places such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Indonesia. In Bangladesh, for instance, supporters of the bid rose from a few dozen to more than 113,000 in the span of six weeks.

LA stands by the numbers.

AP Report: LA 2024 Olympic bid gets lots of Facebook likes … from Pakistan

Kerri Walsh Jennings’ next partner is a familiar one

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Kerri Walsh Jennings is slated to play with with 2008 Olympian Nicole Branagh this summer, after she and Olympic bronze medal teammate April Ross split last month.

Walsh Jennings, a three-time Olympic champion with Misty May-Treanor before that bronze in Rio, and Branagh, who made the Beijing Games quarterfinals with Elaine Youngs, are entered in an FIVB World Tour event in Croatia the last week of June.

Walsh Jennings and Branagh are both 38 years old and briefly paired in 2010 when May-Treanor was uncertain about making a run for the London Olympics. When May-Treanor told Walsh Jennings she was all-in for London, Walsh Jennings split from Branagh.

Walsh Jennings and Branagh are hoping to play together through the World Tour Finals in late August, according to Volleyball Magazine.

That includes the world championships in Vienna, Austria, in late July and early August.

It’s not known if they will have the combined ranking points to earn an outright worlds spot. They could also receive a wild card for worlds. Entries will be announced next month.

Walsh Jennings, a mother of three, has said she hopes to play in the 2020 Olympics at age 41, when she will be older than any previous Olympic beach or indoor volleyball player, according to Olympic historians.

Branagh returned to competition this year after a one-year break to have her second child. She has played few international events since 2012 and last won internationally in 2010 (with Walsh Jennings).

Ross, an Olympic silver and bronze medalist and 2009 World champion, is now partnered with Lauren Fendrick, who played with Brooke Sweat in Rio. Ross, 34, said she will figure out her long-term partner plans for Tokyo 2020 after this season.

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Catching up with Ross Powers

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Ross Powers, now 38 years old and 15 years removed from his Olympic snowboarding title, is still out with halfpipe riders on the snow five days per week.

The difference now is that Powers is coaching. He runs the snowboarding program at Stratton Mountain School in Vermont, where he graduated from in 1997.

Powers spoke with OlympicTalk before last season, reflecting on 20 years of snowboarding in the Olympics, Shaun White and how he likes coaching.

OlympicTalk: The PyeongChang Winter Games will mark 20 years since snowboarding’s debut in Nagano. What was it like competing in the first Olympic halfpipe?

Powers (who won bronze in Nagano at age 19): It seemed kind of like a regular World Cup. We were up in the mountains. At the time, it was a really good halfpipe, but we ended up competing in some bad weather, some rain. I didn’t realize until I left Japan and got home how big the Olympics were. But looking back, it was a special time. And I really learned from the ’98 Olympics, like if I get this chance again, I’m going to go there, I’m going to do it all. I’m going to go to Opening Ceremonies, Closing Ceremonies, watch as many events as I can and just make the most out of the Games.

OlympicTalk: The Nagano halfpipe was about half the size of today’s superpipes (394 feet long with 11 1/2-foot walls vs. 590 feet with 22-foot walls in Sochi). Could today’s snowboarders compete with you guys back in 1998?

Powers: It was so different. At the time, I want to say it was the biggest pipe we rode, but compared to today’s standards, it’s small. The weather was tricky. I think a lot of those guys [today] could ride it, but it’s so much different than today’s halfpipe for sure.

OlympicTalk: In 2002, when you led a U.S. men’s halfpipe medal sweep, the rider who just missed the Olympic team was a 15-year-old Shaun White. What do you remember about him?

Powers: You kind of knew he was going to be the next guy. Where he took our sport and certain tricks. One thing that really impressed me about him is he’ll train really hard for an event, show up, even if the conditions are bad, he’s planned this trick he wants to do, and he’ll try it no matter what. Most of the time he’ll give it a go and land it. That actually hurt him in Russia [White attempted but couldn’t perfect the YOLO Flip 1440 in Sochi] because he probably could have stepped down a notch, gotten a medal and maybe even won the event.

OlympicTalk: Did Shaun ever beat you before you retired?

Powers: I had my run from 1998, ’99, ’00, ’01, all those times that I was doing really well. I tried to make the 2006 Olympics in Italy. I was the alternate, so I just missed that. He was definitely beating me up through those times.

OlympicTalk: Did you travel to the Torino Olympics as an alternate?

Powers: I did, yeah. I traveled over there and actually watched my buddy [Seth] Wescott win the gold in boarder cross. That night, he was like, you should try boarder cross. That kind of got me into doing that my next few years after that.

[Editor’s Note: Powers almost made the 2010 Olympic team in snowboard cross, even finishing third in a December 2009 World Cup.]

OlympicTalk: Which is tougher, coaching or competing?

Powers: I would say it is tougher coaching than competing. You just have so many responsibilities and so much work. The nice thing about coaching, though, compared to competing, is you can kind of push yourself and have fun [riding] on certain days but then also sit back and really work with the athletes on all other days. So when you’re feeling it, you can push yourself. So it’s not like an athlete, where you have to push yourself.

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