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City Council signs off on contract to host 2028 Olympics

LOS ANGELES — The City Council Aug. 11 unanimously approved a new memorandum of understanding and host city contract for the 2028 Olympics, despite lacking finalized figures about the costs and potential financial liabilities of an event Los Angeles originally wanted to host four years earlier.

Approval of the agreements is one of the final hurdles needed to officially bring the Games back to the Southland for the first time since 1984.

By signing off on the documents, the council commits the city to pursuing the 2028 Games while ceding the 2024 Games to Paris, despite not knowing the full financial outlook the change could bring.

LA 2028, the renamed committee leading the city’s bid, proposed a balanced budget of $5.3 billion for 2024 — a low figure compared to other modern Olympics — by utilizing existing venues and not building any new permanent structures just for the Games. However, an independent analysis of a new budget in the works for 2028 will not likely be completed for months.

Los Angeles started off competing with other cities around the world for the 2024 Games, but eventually all cities except L.A. and Paris dropped out.

In July, the International Olympic Committee approved the idea of awarding both the 2024 and 2028 Games simultaneously.

On July 31, Mayor Eric Garcetti and other leaders announced a tentative agreement to host in 2028 as long as the Los Angeles City Council and U.S. Olympic Committee Board of Directors also approve the change. If that approval is given, the IOC, Los Angeles and Paris will work on a formal three-way agreement in advance of the IOC’s meeting in Lima, Peru, on Sept. 13, when the Games will officially be awarded.

At the committee and council meeting Aug. 11, a lineup of prominent Angelenos and Olympic supporters spoke in favor of the 2028 bid, including Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Michelle King, former Councilman Tom LaBonge and Olympic medalist Carl Lewis.

“This is about people’s lives. It’s about bringing people together. It’s about inspiring children,” said Lewis who won four gold medals in track and field in the 1984 Olympics, which were held here.

Los Angeles would receive some significant financial concessions for waiting the extra four years to host. Under the terms of the 2028 host city contract, the IOC would advance $180 million to the Los Angeles organizing committee due to the longer planning period and to fund youth sports in the years leading up to the Games.

The IOC also agreed to waive $50 million in fees and contribute up to $2 billion of its broadcast and sponsorship revenues to the Games, more than the $1.7 billion pledged to Paris for 2024. The IOC also agreed to funnel any of its profits from the Games back to the city.

“My top priorities in this process are to protect Los Angeles taxpayers and create new opportunities for young Angelenos to play sports, and be healthy,” Garcetti said in a statement before the vote. “This new MOU ensures that our city priorities remain front-and-center in LA 2028’s preparations for the Games. Under the city’s leadership, we can be sure that the up to $160 million we will receive to fund youth sports programs from LA 2028 will be put to the best, most impactful use.”

Council President Herb Wesson delivered passionate remarks defending the new deal and said despite the late change to 2028 from 2024, the council had worked on the Olympics for more than two years.

“If we, members, are going to have a bold city, we need to be bold,” Wesson said.