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

U.S. Open mulls no fans, group flights, coronavirus tests as decision looms

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Charter flights to ferry U.S. Open tennis players and limited entourages from Europe, South America and the Middle East to New York. Negative COVID-19 tests before traveling. Centralized housing. Daily temperature checks.

No spectators. Fewer on-court officials. No locker-room access on practice days.

All are among the scenarios being considered for the 2020 U.S. Open — if it is held at all amid the coronavirus pandemic — and described to The Associated Press by a high-ranking official at the Grand Slam tournament.

“All of this is still fluid,” Stacey Allaster, the U.S. Tennis Association’s chief executive for professional tennis, said in a telephone interview Saturday. “We have made no decisions at all.”

With that caveat, Allaster added that if the USTA board does decide to go forward with the Open, she expects it to be held at its usual site and in its usual spot on the calendar. The main draw is scheduled to start Aug. 31.

“We continue to be, I would say, 150% focused on staging a safe environment for conducting a U.S. Open at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on our dates. It’s all I wake up — our team wakes up — thinking about,” Allaster said. “The idea of an alternative venue, an alternative date … we’ve got a responsibility to explore it, but it doesn’t have a lot of momentum.”

An announcement should come from “mid-June to end of June,” Allaster said.

All sanctioned competition has been suspended by the ATP, WTA and International Tennis Federation since March and is on hold until late July.

The French Open was postponed from May to September; Wimbledon was canceled for the first time since 1945.

There is no established COVID-19 protocol for tennis, a global sport with several governing bodies.

“Everybody would agree to the fundamental principles, I’m sure: protecting the health of participants, following the local laws and minimizing the risk of the transmission of the virus,” said Stuart Miller, who is overseeing the ITF’s return-to-tennis policy. “But then you have to get down into the specific details.”

One such detail: The USTA wants to add locker rooms — including at indoor courts that housed hundreds of temporary hospital beds at the height of New York’s coronavirus outbreak — and improve air filtration in existing spaces. Also being considered: no locker-room access until just before a match. So if anyone goes to Flushing Meadows just to train, Allaster said, “You come, you practice, and return to the hotel.”

The USTA presented its operational plan to a medical advisory group Friday; now that will be discussed with city, state and federal government officials.

MORE: Olympic tennis: Key questions for Tokyo Games in 2021

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Jamaican bobsledders want to return to the Olympics, so they’re pushing a Mini Cooper

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The Jamaican bobsled team’s push for the next Winter Olympics took a detour to the roads of Great Britain.

Numerous British media outlets reported in the last week on Shanwayne Stephens and Nimroy Turgott, who have been pushing cars, including a Mini Cooper, in Peterborough.

“We had to come up with our own ways of replicating the sort of pushing we need to do [in bobsledding amid the coronavirus pandemic],” Stephens, a reported British resident since age 11, said, according to Reuters. “So that’s why we thought: why not go out and push the car?

“We do get some funny looks. We’ve had people run over, thinking the car’s broken down, trying to help us bump-start the car. When we tell them we’re the Jamaica bobsleigh team, the direction is totally different, and they’re very excited.”

The Jamaican bobsled team rose to fame with its Olympic debut at the 1988 Calgary Winter Games, inspiring the 1993 Disney film, “Cool Runnings.” At least one Jamaican men’s sled competed in every Olympics from 1988 through 2002, then again in 2014, with a best finish of 14th.

A Jamaican women’s sled debuted at the Olympics in 2018, driven by 2014 U.S. Olympian Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian. A Jamaican men’s sled just missed qualifying for PyeongChang by one spot in world rankings.

Stephens, a driver, is 51st and 56th in the current world rankings for the four-person and two-man events, respectively.

He competed in lower-level international races last season with a best finish of sixth in a four-person race that had seven sleds. One of Stephens’ push athletes was Carrie Russell, a 2018 Olympian in the two-woman event and former sprinter who won a world title in the 4x100m in 2013.

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MORE: Sam Clayton, Jamaica’s first bobsled driver, was ‘a pioneer of pioneers’