Los Angeles has agreed to host the 2028 Summer Olympics, the International Olympic Committee announced Monday afternoon.
Los Angeles, which last hosted the Olympics in 1984, had originally sought to hold the 2024 Games. When several cities backed out of potential Olympic bids, however, the IOC decided to break precedent and award the 2024 and 2028 Olympics at the same time. Los Angeles’ agreement to host the 2028 Summer Games means Paris, the only other city to bid, will host the competition in 2024.
The news was originally broken by the Los Angeles Times, which cited a source close to the city’s negotiations with the IOC.
“This is an historic day for Los Angeles, for the United States and for the Olympic and Paralympic Movements around the world,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in a statement released by LA 2024, the private organizers behind the city’s Olympic bid. “Today, we take a major step toward bringing the Games back to our city for the first time in a generation and begin a new chapter in Los Angeles’ timeless Olympic story.”
The United States last hosted the Summer Olympics in 1996, in Atlanta, and the Winter Olympics in 2002, in Salt Lake City.
Los Angeles’ efforts to host the Olympics for a third time ― it also held the games in 1932 ― were nearly derailed at numerous points in the process. The U.S. Olympic Committee initially tapped Boston as its choice to bid for the 2024 Games, until that bid collapsed amid fervent local opposition in July 2015. Los Angeles stepped in to replace Boston a month later. But it was seen as a long shot to beat out Paris, which last hosted the Olympics in 1924 and had narrowly lost out to London for the right to host the 2012 Games.
Handing the 2024 and 2028 games to Paris and Los Angeles could bring some needed stability ― and good public relations ― to an Olympic movement that has been in peril in recent years. The exorbitant costs and empty, destructive legacies of the Olympics have turned off potential hosts, and in each of the last two bidding cycles, the IOC has found itself with only two cities willing to handle the games. Three cities canceled Olympic bids for the 2022 Winter Olympics, while four others backed out of 2024 contention thanks to opposition from local citizens and political leaders.
Los Angeles, however, is almost a model Olympic city. It turned a small profit in 1984, and even Olympic skeptics have said that the city’s bid is financially sound and unlikely to lead to the kind of massive cost overruns that so many other hosts have experienced.
Garcetti and LA 2024 have highlighted the city’s 1984 experience, pushing their bid as a chance to show that the Olympics can be held in a responsible manner.
In a press conference Monday evening, Garcetti stressed that the city aims to make the games economically, socially and environmentally sustainable. The mayor vowed to protect Los Angeles taxpayers’ money and to use the event as a way to create long-lasting access to sports for children throughout the city.
Still, the process this time around will likely create its own challenges. No city has ever before had to wait more than a decade between agreeing to host the games and actually staging them. That creates a long window during which political, social and economic forces could change dramatically, exacerbating the numerous problems that always arise in staging the event.
California’s state legislature and the Los Angeles City Council must still approve the plans to host the 2028 Games. The city council will consider the matter in August, according to the LA 2024 release. It is expected that both bodies will approve the agreement, given that both had already given their blessing to the 2024 effort.
That will pave the way for the IOC’s members to formally award the 2024 and 2028 Olympics to Paris and Los Angeles, respectively, at a September meeting in Peru.
Organizers behind NOlympics LA, a grassroots group that launched this year, said they would continue fighting to keep the games out of Los Angeles while lawmakers consider the 2028 agreement.
“We’re not surprised but we’re really disappointed,” said Jonny Coleman, who helped start the group. “By no means is this officially on. There’s so many things that have to happen before the games are actually awarded here. In the next month or so, we’re going to be really loud and really aggressive.”
The story has been updated with the announcements from the International Olympic Committee, LA 2024 and the mayor’s press conference.