Tag: 2024 Olympics

Scott Blackmun

USOC CEO: Boston risk should not have been taken; L.A. is a second chance


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — The leader of the U.S. Olympic Committee compared the choice of Boston as a bidder for the 2024 Olympics to Seattle’s choice to pass the ball at the goal line at the end of the Super Bowl last season.

Fortunately, CEO Scott Blackmun said, “unlike the Seahawks, we have not lost the game.”

In his most candid public comments about the ups and downs of the tumultuous bid process, Blackmun used his speech Thursday at the U.S. Olympic Assembly to focus on the second chance Los Angeles has given the USOC to land the 2024 Games. He also conceded he owed an explanation about the Boston mess to this annual gathering of 400-plus members of the Olympic family.

“The Boston bid failed because, from the beginning, it was not a bid supported by the people of Boston,” Blackmun said. “Should we have taken the risk? In hindsight, the answer is ‘no.'”

He equated that to the Seahawks’ decision to throw at the goal line in the closing moments of the Super Bowl, while trailing New England by four. That pass was intercepted and the play call has been derided as one of the worst ever made in sports.

“But here’s the thing,” Blackmun said. “Unlike the Seahawks, we have not lost the game. We are back on our feet, we have found a second chance waiting and the whole game is in front of us.”

Indeed, the Olympics won’t be awarded until 2017. Los Angeles is in the race along with Paris; Rome; Hamburg, Germany; and Budapest, Hungary.

Blackmun introduced LA 2024 chairman Casey Wasserman to the crowd, and Wasserman touted Los Angeles as a storytelling city with 85 percent of its venues already in place, along with a stellar Olympic pedigree as a two-time Olympic host.

Wasserman told his own Olympic story — saying he cut his teeth on the games, back when he was 10 and the 1984 Olympics came to town. Those Games — with Peter Ueberroth calling a lot of the shots while Wasserman’s grandfather, Lew, was a major power player in LA — created the modern-day template for the Olympics and proved they could make money and help a city grow.

“In a very real way, our bid is the ‘Back to the Future’ bid of this campaign,” Wasserman said. “And no, ‘Back to the Future’ is not our tagline — but stay tuned.”

Los Angeles offered some news Thursday, announcing Olympic swimming medalist Janet Evans as its vice chair and positioning that move as a strong sign that athletes are at the heart of its plan.

But mostly, these speeches were to get members of the U.S. Olympic movement pumped again after a start to 2015 that Blackmun called “the most unsettling and challenging time in my professional life.”

The USOC picked Boston in January, dumped it in July, then re-upped with Los Angeles earlier this month.

Chairman Larry Probst said the USOC moved forward after the Boston bid tanked because it was encouraged by international colleagues who he portrayed as “surprised and disappointed (but) not discouraged.”

He spent the bulk of his speech giving details about the USOC’s improved international relationships, one sign of which is showing up in a number of world-championship events taking place in the United States.

Those numbers, Probst said, had been “abysmal.” But in 2014, the U.S. hosted eight world championships in Olympic and Paralympic sports, with 10 more this year, including the World Wrestling Championships in Las Vegas and the World Triathlon Series Grand Final in Chicago, both earlier this month.

All that, plus the fact the U.S. hasn’t hosted the Summer Games since 1996, leads some to call Los Angeles a favorite, or even go so far as to say 2024 is America’s to lose.

While Wasserman read a laundry list of selling points for Los Angeles — a transparent, athlete-centered bid with nearly 90 percent support among residents — he rejected the idea that it’s all over but the voting.

“I think it’s reckless and even arrogant,” he said. “We have to earn this, just like athletes do on the field of play, every day. Nothing is given except that we have to produce a bid that is superior to our competitors.”

MORE 2024 Olympics: Watch L.A. 2024 promo video

Janet Evans to lead Los Angeles 2024 Olympic bid athletes’ commission

Janet Evans
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Janet Evans, a four-time Olympic swimming champion and Southern California native, will head up the Los Angeles 2024 Olympic bid athletes’ commission, being named the bid’s vice chair on Thursday.

She attended the last Olympics in Los Angeles, in 1984, at age 12.

“I’m honored to join this team and will do everything I can to help L.A.’s bid,” Evans said in a press release. “I remember sitting in the stands as a young fan at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum in 1984, and those athletes truly inspired my athletic pursuits.”

Evans will work closely with Olympians and Paralympians to ensure their voices are heard as Los Angeles bids for the 2024 Olympics against Budapest, Hamburg, Paris and Rome.

Evans “will ensure that we remain in dialogue with the athletes and constantly identify new ways to refine and improve our offering,” Los Angeles 2024 bid chairman Casey Wasserman said in a press release.

Evans, of Fullerton, Calif., won five combined medals at the Seoul 1988 and Barcelona 1992 Olympics, retired after Atlanta 1996 and attempted a comeback before the London 2012 Olympics but did not make the team at the Olympic trials.

Evans, 44, was among many star U.S. Olympians who helped announce the bid Sept. 1.

International Olympic Committee members will vote to choose the 2024 Olympic host city in September 2017.

MORE 2024 Olympics: Watch L.A. 2024 promo video

Rome 2024 Olympic bid plan includes Colosseum, Vatican, Circus Maximus

Rome Colosseum
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ROME (AP) — The marathon route winding through St. Peter’s Square and finishing under the Arch of Constantine in front of the Colosseum. A medals plaza set up inside the Baths of Caracalla. Beach volleyball played at the Circus Maximus.

Since Italian Premier Matteo Renzi announced Rome’s bid for the 2024 Olympics last year, the details have been something of a mystery.

But, in a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press, bid chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo revealed a list of “iconic venues” that will take full advantage of Rome’s historic settings and Italy’s television-friendly backdrops.

Among other plans, cyclists could finish the road race with a sprint on the majestic Via dei Fori Imperiali and sailing would take place off Sardinia, Sicily or the Amalfi coast. The marathon route would run alongside Rome’s synagogue and mosque to promote interfaith peace.

“With television today, to have the possibility to put together the sport, the emotion, with the (surroundings) is fantastic,” said Montezemolo, the former Ferrari president and current Alitalia chairman.

The center of the bid project is the Foro Italico, which features the Stadio Olimpico used for the 1960 Games with an adjacent aquatics venue.

“We can do the opening ceremony and the athletics tonight,” Montezemolo said. “(We’re) ready. Swimming tonight. … Seventy percent of the venues are existing.”

Another main area will be at Tor Vergata, a university zone on Rome’s ring road that would be used for the athletes village, basketball, volleyball and perhaps the velodrome.

Gymnastics, boxing, fencing, judo, taekwondo and some other sports would be held at the Fiera convention center near the main airport

With Tor Vergata currently in a state of abandonment. Montezemolo wants the athletes village to be turned into university housing and a hospital after the games.

“I don’t want to present a town that puts in the window only history and (the) past,” he said.

A drawback might be the distance — 33 kilometers (20 miles) — from Tor Vergata to the Foro Italico. That could impact athletics and swimming competitors who often return to the village between morning heats and evening finals.

Rome would like to host the games in August (sometime between Aug. 5-25) when the locals go on vacation — so traffic might not be as much of a problem as usual.

“It could be 40 minutes without traffic,” Montezemolo said.

One of the biggest challenges to Rome’s bid remains concern over corruption in construction contracts.

Dozens of suspects have been ordered to stand trial in November for a widening corruption scandal in Rome labeled “Mafia Capital.” Phone conversations intercepted by police and published in the media described how local criminal bosses managed to cement ties with city politicians over lucrative public contracts.

“I don’t accept that it’s automatic to do a big event together with corruption,” Montezemolo said.

At a flashy funeral send-off for a reputed mafia chieftain last month, there was a gilded horse-drawn carriage and “Godfather” theme music.

“I was astonished,” Montezemolo said of Vittorio Casamonica‘s funeral. “If this happened, it means that somebody did not (police) enough.”

With “Mafia Capital” in mind, Montezemolo is appointing Renzi’s anti-corruption czar Raffaele Cantone to a place on the bid team, and he’s also naming a handful of prominent judicial figures to oversee the contracts process.

“This is the best way to clean,” said Montezemolo, who is running the bid committee without a salary. “This is the process. For many years that was not the process.”

In line with the IOC’s new cost-cutting agenda, Rome is also promoting a thrifty bid.

Plans call for a games budget of 6 billion euros ($6.7 billion) — or roughly half of what London spent in 2012

The bid budget is 10 million euros ($11 million) — a fraction of the 60 million euros ($65 million) that rival Paris is spending. Los Angeles — the other main contender — raised $35 million in a single week for its bid campaign.

The other bidders are Hamburg, Germany, and Budapest, Hungary. The IOC will select the host city in 2017.

Rome hasn’t launched a website yet — although that’s in the works.

Having witnessed Boston’s withdrawal from the race after a public backlash, Rome is being extra careful.

“I prefer to announce when things are confirmed,” Montezemolo said. “It’s very easy to say we will do soccer in the Colosseum and maybe swimming in the Tiber. But that is not realistic.”

MORE 2024 OLYMPICS: A look at the five cities bidding for 2024