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

Lawmakers choke back tears, scream at Olympic sport leaders for sex-abuse scandal

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The tears and anger this time came from lawmakers who spent the day fuming over a growing sex-abuse problem in Olympic sports that leaders have taken too much time to solve while devoting too little money for the fixes.

“I just hope everyone here realizes the time to talk is over, and you need to walk your talk,” Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., said Wednesday shortly after choking back tears while questioning leaders of the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Center for SafeSport.

The hearing of the House subcommittee was filled with both substance and spectacle — the latter coming mostly courtesy of a five-minute burst from Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Ga., who told the USOC’s acting CEO, Susanne Lyons, “you should resign your position now,” and tore into USA Gymnastics CEO Kerry Perry and the rest of the panel for not uttering the exact words: “I’m sorry.”

“If you don’t want to say you’re sorry, I don’t want to talk to you,” said Carter, who represents the district where a lawsuit that triggered the mushrooming scandal in gymnastics was filed.

In fact, members on the panel of U.S. sports executives did apologize to the victims, whose numbers grow almost daily and whose pain was most heart-wrenchingly displayed during the sentencing hearing for Larry Nassar, the Michigan State doctor who also worked for the U.S. gymnastics team.

But set against the USOC’s slow-moving reforms, to say nothing of the raw numbers presented by SafeSport CEO Shellie Pfohl, some of the apologies felt hollow.

The USOC started talking about reforming its sex-abuse policy in 2010 after a scandal was exposed inside of USA Swimming. From then, it took seven years to open the SafeSport center to independently investigate sex-abuse claims made by Olympic athletes. Pfohl described an office that has been overwhelmed in the 14 months it has been in business.

— When it opened in March 2017, Pfohl said the center received 20 to 30 calls a month. In the wake of the #MeToo movement and the Nassar case, that has increased to about 20 to 30 calls per week.

— SafeSport operates on a budget of $4.3 million a year, $1.55 million of which was recently added as part of the USOC’s mission to bolster its response to the abuse issue. That brought the USOC’s contribution to $3.1 million. (By comparison, the USOC gave the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, in charge of Olympic drug testing in the United States, $3.7 million in 2016. Its budget is more than $19 million.)

— The budget is enough for 14 full-time employees, which includes five full-time investigators. Seven additional investigators work on a contract basis. The center has fielded 840 reports over 14 months. Reports have come in regarding 38 of the 49 national governing bodies.

— Part of the delay in opening the SafeSport center came because the USOC met reluctance from almost everyone in funding, both from outside and inside the Olympic movement. The NGBs are charged on a sliding scale, depending on their size. USA Swimming contributed only $43,000 this year, “but we’re one of the larger NGBs, and based on who we are, we could provide more resources,” CEO Tim Hinchey said.

Pfohl said she wouldn’t turn it down.

Meanwhile, she is still waiting for paperwork to apply for a $2.5 million grant the government wrote into this year’s budget. (The government gave $9.5 million to USADA in 2016.)

The witnesses testified to a continued lack of uniformity in sex-abuse policies among the NGBs, despite efforts that date to at least 2013. Some publish full lists of banned coaches and athletes. Some distribute them only to members of the organizations. Under terms of a recently passed law to protect athletes, the NGBs are supposed to be audited randomly by the SafeSport center, but that project is hamstrung because resources do not exist.

Meanwhile, the role of the USOC in overseeing it all remains confusing.

Brought up more than once was an exchange during a deposition for a sex-abuse lawsuit in which a USOC lawyer was asked if protecting athletes was a top priority for the federation.

“The USOC does not have athletes,” answered Gary Johansen — speaking to the reality that, except during the Olympics, athletes technically fall under the umbrella of their individual sports.

Lyons said that mindset will change.

“We do hold ourselves responsible, and if there’s a failing, it’s from not properly exercising our authority,” she said.

One of the best examples of the USOC using that authority has been the top-to-bottom housecleaning it demanded from USA Gymnastics.

Most news about the federation’s changes, however, has been delivered in long news releases. Wednesday marked the first time Perry has made public comments since her hiring in December. She left after the hearing without taking questions.

“I’m glad you’re here today, but a lot of people have wanted to hear from you since you took the job,” Dingell said.

But Dingell didn’t really like what she heard — “I don’t hear a sense of urgency,” she said — and she was not alone.

“As compared to how much money a district attorney’s office has, or how much money a Title IX office has at a school, it’s not in the same ballpark at all,” Nancy Hogshead-Makar, Olympic swimmer and outspoken critic of the USOC’s efforts, said of the SafeSport budget. “Shellie desperately needs more money.”

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MORE: Rhonda Faehn, women’s program head, ‘no longer with USA Gymnastics’

Lindsey Vonn, Ronda Rousey among athletes featured on Shark Week

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Olympic medalists Lindsey Vonn and Ronda Rousey headline an athlete roster appearing on Discovery Channel’s Shark Week in two months.

They follow Michael Phelps‘ much talked about Shark Week shows last year.

Vonn will appear on a show called “Monster Tag.” Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski are also included.

They “will join forces with top shark scientists to learn crucial information about the ocean’s top predators,” according to Discovery Channel.

Rousey, a 2008 Olympic judo bronze medalist, will dive with a mako shark in “Uncaged: Shark vs. Ronda Rousey.” The title is similar to “Phelps vs. Shark: Great Gold vs. Great White” from last year.

“First, Rousey, in a cage, dives into the ring with several lightweight shark species in the waters off Fiji and then moves onto the main event in New Zealand where she’ll ‘free dive uncaged’ with the heavyweight mako shark,” according to Discovery Channel.

More on Shark Week from Discovery Channel is here.

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MORE: Vonn’s proposal to race men tabled