As expected, it was announced yesterday that the 2024 Olympics will be held in Paris, and the 2028 games in Los Angeles. With those two cities the only bidders for 2024, the International Olympic Committee had decided to just declare two winners at once, and once L.A. officials offered to go second, the deal was done.
So given the disaster that other recent Olympic games have been for host cities, should Los Angelenos be celebrating or cowering in fear? I’d previously argued that L.A. needed to drive a hard bargain with the IOC — as it did prior to hosting the 1984 Olympics, when it was similarly the only real bidder — and indeed the city did get some concessions in its deal:
- The IOC will share media and sponsorship revenues with L.A., which it estimates could be worth as much as $2 billion, though there are no guarantees.
- $180 million of this cash will be forwarded immediately as an advance, helping the city pay for some of its up-front costs.
- The city will set aside $487.6 million in contingency funds for cost overruns, and if the games come in under budget, they’ll get to keep all of it — the IOC is waiving its usual demand for a 20% cut of any surplus.
If that seems like weak tea to you as far as concessions go — Los Angeles will get to keep its own money if it doesn’t spend it! — well, that’s what counts as a good deal compared to the unmitigated disaster that many other cities’ contracts with the IOC have been.
I’m going to try to dive into the numbers a bit more in coming days, and L.A. does have a lot of existing venues that it can repurpose for the games, which should help keep costs down. But given that cities the Olympics almost always go way over budget and cities almost always lose money on them, getting a vague promise of lots of media riches and getting to keep any surplus if there is one isn’t exactly something I’d be running out into the streets to celebrate.