Poll shows Angelenos still keen on Games, even in 2028
Los Angeles (AFP)
The prospect of waiting an extra four years, until 2028, to see the Olympics in Los Angeles hasn't dimmed Angelenos' enthusiasm for the Games, a new poll showed Tuesday.
The poll was released by Loyal Marymount University one day after Los Angeles confirmed it had agreed to step aside for rival bidder Paris in 2024 and intends to host the Olympics for a third time in 2028.
It finds that 83 percent of residents support the later date. That compares to a survey conducted late last year by the university which found that 88 percent of residents backed the 2024 bid.
The poll was actually conducted prior to Monday's news that Los Angeles had reached an agreement with the International Olympic Committee that sets it up to host in 2028.
LA received some financial concessions from the IOC as part of the deal, including an advance of $180 million to fund the organizing committee's extra years of operation and up to $160 million to be invested in local youth sports programs.
LA mayor Eric Garcetti painted that as one of the many benefits of agreeing to wait for 2028 -- and something that will help organizers build anticipation for the Games.
"I want something for the people of LA now," he said at the press conference to officially announce the city's 2028 bid. "I want the excitement to build."
Garcetti shrugged off the risks of waiting longer -- such as an possible economic downturn like the one that forced 2016 Rio de Janeiro organizers into cutbacks.
And he played up the benefits of the longer lead-in, saying the Los Angeles commuter train system -- long an afterthought in a city where residents love to drive -- will be more developed and improvements to Los Angeles International Airport could also be complete.
"The support among Angelenos for hosting the Summer Olympics remains strong, whether it's in 2024 or 2028," Brianne Gilbert, associate director of the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University, said of the poll results. "The vast majority want the Games in LA."
That doesn't mean there's no local opposition.
NOlympics, a vocal coalition opposing the Games, called the decision "a complete miscarriage of anything remotely resembling democracy" and on its website urged Angelenos to call their city council members and urge them to vote no on the new proposed bid.
NOlympics fears that even if a third Los Angeles Games are a success -- even if they turn a profit -- they will exacerbate the city's problems of soaring housing costs and homelessness.
The LA City Council signed on for the 2024 bid, but has yet to formally approve the 2028 deal.
Although he's an enthusiastic backer of the Games, council president Herb Wasserman promised the council's Olympic committee would vet the new agreement thoroughly before making any recommendation to the full council on whether to approve.
"We'll scrub it, scrub it and re-scrub it," he said.
© 2017 AFP