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No Olympic ultimatum from LA 2024 chiefs

No Olympic ultimatum from LA 2024 chiefs

LOS ANGELES: The head of Los Angeles’s bid for the 2024 Olympics ruled out issuing an ultimatum to the International Olympic Committee on Friday, taking a veiled swipe at rival city Paris as the battle for the Games heats up.

LA 2024 chairman Casey Wasserman told AFP in an interview that IOC moves to explore the possibility of awarding both the 2024 and 2028 Summer Games at the same time at a vote in September were “absolutely right.” But while Wasserman argued forcefully that Los Angeles was the best candidate for 2024, he stopped short of issuing an ultimatum.

Paris co-chairman Tony Estanguet had warned last week that it was “now or never” for the French capital, and that if the city’s tilt at 2024 was not successful “we will not come back for 2028.”

“Now or never sounds like an ultimatum to me,” Wasserman told AFP at his Los Angeles office.

“I have been in business a long time. I never had a successful relationship or partnership with any entity by issuing an ultimatum. “We will not issue an ultimatum.”

Wasserman was speaking amid intense speculation concerning the race for 2024, which will be decided at an IOC vote in Lima on September 13.

The IOC is looking at the option of awarding two Olympics at once in order to capitalise on the Paris and Los Angeles bids at a time when fewer and fewer cities are willing to take on the financial and logistical responsibilities of staging an Olympic Games.

“It’s exactly the kind of idea and strategic initiative the IOC should be thinking about,” Wasserman said.

“But if you take a step back, if you look at the strategic rationale, it points to the importance and the necessity of LA going first.”

LA’s bid, which would require no major infrastructure projects or venue construction, making use of existing facilities, offered the prospect of “calm and stability” for the Olympic movement, Wasserman said.

“No political interference, tremendous support from our citizens, no capital projects, no budget overruns. That’s LA. And that calms and creates stability,” Wasserman said.

Pressed on whether there was any scenario in which Los Angeles officials may consider staging the games in 2028, Wasserman said the city remained focused only on 2024.

“No-one’s a candidate for 2028. I think that’s a hypothetical and it’s not worth discussing. The IOC’s got a process. We’ve had no conversations with the IOC about that process. We don’t know what their intent is,” he said.

“We don’t know what their approach is going to be, so for anyone to comment on 2028 is premature.” There had also been no discussions with the IOC about the possibility of a joint 2024/2028 award.

“They’ve not reached out to us. Other than the public statements they’ve made, we’ve had nothing,” he said.

With the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics mired in corruption allegations, and questions raised about white elephant venues which have been left to rot, the stakes for the IOC could not be higher as it ponders its choice for 2024.

Wasserman said the Olympic movement was at a “turning point”.

“The next host of the Olympics had better get it right. I don’t think the Olympic movement wants to be put in a poistion of having seven more years of the kind of challenges they have had in the past,” Wasserman said. “The Olympics deserves better, the movement deserves better.”

Published in Dawn, April 2nd, 2017

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