Who are the key players in L.A.'s Olympic bid?
Los Angeles’ bid for the 2024 Summer Games officially begins Wednesday as Mayor Eric Garcetti and sports executive Casey Wasserman hand-deliver a letter of application to International Olympic Committee headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Over the next two years, Garcetti and Wasserman will form the core of a small group of key players working to bring the Games back to Southern California for a third time:
The mayor took control of the bid last year, moving it from a nonprofit group called the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games into his office. Charismatic and articulate, he impressed U.S. Olympic Committee executives with his continued determination after losing a domestic competition to Boston last winter. He also won over a skeptical City Council this week, gaining unanimous approval to move forward. “You have waited patiently, never losing sight of the great prize of hosting the Games,” USOC Chief Executive Scott Blackmun told him during Tuesday’s news conference. This could be a legacy project for an ambitious local politician with his eyes on bigger things.
GQ magazine once dubbed him a “Jewish Tom Cruise, a kosher Kennedy.” This grandson of the late studio executive Lew Wasserman has made a name for himself as a power broker in Southern California sports over the last two decades. He owned an Arena Football League franchise while he was still in his 20s and has backed attempts to return the NFL to Los Angeles. Now, while running a successful sports and entertainment management agency, he will serve as chairman of the LA24 bid committee. His contacts within the Olympic movement could prove vital to L.A.'s chances.
A former speaker of the California Assembly, Wesson now serves as president of the Los Angeles City Council and has earned a reputation as back-room deal-maker. The Cleveland native has made no secret about his support for the 2024 bid, helping to broker a deal that assuaged skeptical fellow councilmen. After the members voted 15-0 on Tuesday to authorize the bid, he said: “The mayor drove me crazy. ‘What’s the vote? What do you think?’ Yes, Mr. Mayor, we accomplished that.” The council still has the right to review future bid contracts, so Wesson’s job is not done.
The 34-year-old politico has worked for the likes of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barbara Boxer but has devoted much of his career to local elected officials, including Austin Beutner, the former first deputy mayor who is now publisher of The Times. “The great thing about being involved in politics in L.A. is you get to totally fly under the radar,” Millman once said. “But then you get to walk around with pride knowing what you do is far more important. That’s just your little secret.” As a senior aide to Garcetti, he spent the past year sweating over venue plans and Olympic budgets, recently taking a leave of absence from City Hall to become what he calls “employee No. 1" for the nascent bid committee.
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