In an unusual move, the International Olympic Committee on July 11 unanimously awarded both Los Angeles and Paris their bids to host the Summer Games. But each city will have to wait until September to see which city will go first in 2024 and which will have to wait until 2028.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti appeared onstage at the IOC headquarters in Switzerland moments after the unanimous vote with Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo to offer members their appreciation. They joined hands with IOC President Thomas Bach in a moment of triumphant celebration.
“This is a proud day for Los Angeles and for Olympic and Paralympic Movements in America,” Garcetti said in a statement. “We’re thrilled with the IOC’s decision today, which is a major step forward in making LA’s Olympic dream a reality.”
Today, Garcetti continued, “two of the world’s greatest cities, with outstanding but different proposals, stand ready to serve and advance the Olympic and Paralympic movements and their values. We look forward to working with the IOC and Paris in the weeks ahead to turn this golden opportunity into a golden future together.”
Garcetti, who was inaugurated for his second term on July 1, told reporters that the LA City Council had already voted for 2024, and that council President Herb Wesson was “excited” by the announcement.
But Hidalgo, Garcetti’s friend and ally on such political issues as climate change and the refugee crisis, also wants 2024 – badly. Having lost previous bids, hosting in 2024 would mark exactly 100 years since Paris last hosted the Summer Games in 1924. The U.S. has also lost after lobbying heavily for New York in 2012 and Chicago in 2016. The Olympics in Southern California in either 2024 or 2028 would be the first in America since Atlanta in 1996.
The next stage is the negotiation process, which could be treacherous, if not for the esteem in which the two mayors hold each other. There is a fear that if a three-way consensus between Garcetti, Hidalgo and Bach can be achieved, the IOC would decide to vote on just one city, leaving the question of whether the losing city would even apply for 2028— and cause a cascade of falling dominos of cities that would also turn their backs on the Olympics. The final selection is to be made Sept. 13 in Lima, Peru.
“We look forward to working together, maybe not in competition but collaboration with Paris,” Garcetti said, having already given a slight indication that going second would be acceptable. It’s widely believed that as compensation for going second, that city can ask for more concessions, including more IOC revenues. Garcetti has already planned for LA to use existing venues for the Olympic Summer Games, thereby avoiding costly, showy overruns.
Meanwhile, the Summer Games became a point of mutual interest, as President Trump flew to Paris to attend Bastille Day celebrations as a guest of French President Emmanuel Macron. The charismatic Frenchman was a star at the recent G20 meeting, which Trump attended as an isolationist leader. When Trump heard that Macron held a news conference after meeting with IOC members in a closed-door session to push his cause, Trump couldn’t resist tweeting: “Working hard to get the Olympics for the United States (L.A.). Stay tuned!” The tweet was criticized by some for ignoring Garcetti’s key role in winning the games for LA.
The Olympics have a special resonance for the LGBT community. In 1984, when the Olympics were last held in Los Angeles a young track and field star named Carl Lewis caught the world’s attention. He won gold in the 100 meters, 200 meters, long jump and 400-meter relay, starting a gold-winning Olympic streak until 1996, prompting many to call him the greatest track and field athlete in Olympic history. But persistent rumors that Lewis was gay—rumors he denied—dogged him throughout his career, damaging his marketability.
Another 1984 Olympic star in LA was Greg Louganis, who swept the diving events that year and in 1988, earning five individual medals, including four gold medals. But Louganis carried a secret with him in 1988—he was gay and HIV positive, which he told his coach. The image of him cracking his head during a dive was replayed over and over, a moment of exemplary bravery. But when he came out in 1995, many were aghast that he hadn’t been stopped, as if he might have infected others by sharing the same pool. After his book “Breaking the Surface” was turned into a made-for-TV movie starring Mario Lopez, a petition was started to get his picture on the cover of a Wheaties cereal box, a tribute afforded sports legends like Bruce Jenner. Finally, three decades after being the Olympic golden boy, Wheaties put Louganis on the box, an instant collector’s item.
Today’s Olympic heroes can be open without the same apparent recriminations. Diver Tom Daley, for instance, may be as well known among young people on social media for his PDA-postings with husband Dustin Lance Black as for his athletic ability.
And then there’s Olympian Tom Bosworth, 27, who set a new world record in the one-mile race walk at the London Anniversary Games on Sunday, July 9 and tweeted his rapturous face in victory.