BREAKING NEWS
L.A. Now

L.A. Mayor Garcetti wants money for youth sports if city hosts 2028 Olympics

Even as Los Angeles continues to push for hosting the 2024 Summer Olympics, it seems bid leaders are compiling a list of concessions they could seek in return for taking the 2028 Games instead.

Mayor Eric Garcetti identified one wish-list item at a news conference this week, saying he would like the International Olympic Committee to fund youth programs throughout L.A.

"My dream is not so much just to bring the Olympics here, but to bring youth sports for free to every ZIP Code,” Garcetti told reporters while answering questions Wednesday on homelessness.

LA 2024 could be in position to ask for such funding because of an unusual situation.

With two strong candidates – L.A. and Paris — in the current bidding competition, the IOC has signaled its interest in naming two winners, giving 2024 to one and 2028 to the other.

French officials reiterated their opposition to the idea on Thursday, insisting their bid includes projects — such as the construction of an athletes village — that cannot be put off.

“For us, it’s very clear,” a Paris 2024 spokesman said. “We’re here for ’24, we have a mandate for ‘24.”

But Garcetti echoed earlier comments when he said Wednesday that LA 2024 is open to bargaining. He spoke of meeting with IOC officials at a recent sports convention in Denmark where he mentioned support for youth programs.

“As we’ve talked to the Olympics, they’ve asked us to think about — both Paris and us — what would it take for us to consider one of us going first and the other going second," the mayor said.

L.A. appears more suitable for postponement if only because existing structures form the core of a plan that would house athletes at UCLA, place an expensive media center at USC and stage events at venues such as the Coliseum and Staples Center. There would be no need for major construction.

“It really depends on whether a particular candidate city can hold the package together for another four years,” said Dick Pound, an IOC member from Canada. “It sounds like Paris would have more difficulty with that than L.A. would.”

Waiting another four years could also put L.A. in position to ask for more than just youth sports funding. A potential agreement could include a bigger slice of IOC revenues, kinder terms in the host-city contract and perhaps some say over which sports are included on the program.

This week, the Wall Street Journal reported that IOC leaders are “progressing” toward an arrangement that would give 2024 to Paris and 2028 to L.A. IOC President Thomas Bach subsequently told insidethegames.biz that no deal has been finalized and there is more work to do.

At present, the IOC is studying the two-winner scenario and will present a report to the executive board in early June. If — as expected — the board recommends naming two winners, the issue will go before IOC membership at a mid-July meeting where the candidate cities are scheduled to make formal presentations.

People in and around the Olympic movement expect a vote of approval would intensify negotiations as Bach seeks to secure the cooperation of the candidate cities in advance. He will need to have them on board when membership reconvenes in September to fill in the blanks on a ballot that could ask for votes on both 2024 and ’28.

“I think that’s what they would like to do,” Pound said of IOC leadership. “They don’t want to go in there and not know what’s going to happen.”

If all of this comes to pass, the 2024 bidder that switches to 2028 would need to modify its arrangements with government agencies, venue owners and other entities. In L.A., that would mean another round of talks with City Council members who have fought to establish an active role in the bidding and potential organization of the Games.

Council President Herb Wesson insisted Thursday that “we came to compete for ’24.”

But Wesson also acknowledged the possibility of adjusting to a later date and, in the process, working a deal with IOC leaders.

“We would reconvene,” he said. “If they want to begin negotiating and adding extra perks, it’s our job to do what’s in the best interest of the city.”

david.wharton@latimes.com

Follow @LAtimesWharton on Twitter

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World