Pourquoi devons-nous attendre?
(Why must we wait?)
Why does France get to go first? Why do we have to wait and go second?
It was learned Monday the International Olympic Committee plans to take the unusual step of awarding two Summer Olympics at once, giving the 2024 Games to Paris and the 2028 Games to Los Angeles.
Originally, L.A. and Paris were competing only for the 2024 Games, but the IOC decided, with two strong candidates, it would give 2024 to one city and 2028 to the other.
As the Los Angeles Times reported Monday, “it has been expected that L.A. would agree to go second, if only because local bid officials expressed a willingness to consider the option. Paris officials, by contrast, had consistently pushed back against waiting another four years.”
First of all, it’s great that the Olympics are coming back to Los Angeles. After hosting them in 1932 and 1984, it will become only the third city to have hosted three Summer Games, joining London and, yes, Paris.
But it could’ve — and should’ve — been the second. L.A. is much more prepared to host the Games than Paris. Much of what is needed to host the Games is already in place in Los Angeles whereas Paris is likely to have to build a good share of its structures.
Doesn’t it make more sense to give the Games that are coming up sooner to the city that can be ready quicker? Doesn’t that seem like a formula to bring about the most success for the Olympics in general?
Leave it to the French to get all up in a huff, excuse me, soyez insulté, about not being first in line.
“Je sais quand je ne suis pas voulu (I know when I’ve been insulted),” said the French. “Je prends mes jouets et je rentre chez moi (I’m taking my toys and going home).”
The decision to make L.A. wait another four years — from something that is seven years from now to something that is 11 years from now — is difficult for people all excited about getting the Olympics here as soon as possible. But the practicality of waiting four more years is undeniable.
First, let’s not understate the idea that U.S. politics could be in a vastly different place than they are now. There are certainly plenty of people around the world who would find the vision of President Donald Trump opening the Olympic Games to be completely abhorrent. If Trump were to win re-election in 2020 and the Games were here in 2024, it would be he who would be at the Coliseum or at the new Inglewood stadium declaring open the Games of the XXXIII Olympiad. Waiting until 2028 could make the rest of the world feel much better about the Games being in the United States.
Or, as the French would say, “Votre président est un ninny.”
The biggest advantage to Los Angeles being willing to postpone its party is financial. The IOC is willing to give L.A. significant concessions in ways the IOC usually doesn’t do. For instance, it plans to contribute $1.7 billion of its broadcast and sponsorship revenues to Paris in 2024. That contribution could increase to $2 billion by the time we get to 2028.
The 1984 Los Angeles Olympics were famous for the legacy they left with the surplus they had after they concluded. Well, to be more to the point, they were famous just for having a surplus. “Vous plaisantez (You’re kidding),” said the French. The surplus was, and still is, used to fund youth programs in Southern California.
Ever since then, Olympic Games have operated in the red. The IOC has a contingency plan for host cities to help with overruns and are not available until the Games are over. But the Times said the IOC plans to give L.A. a $180 million interest-free loan right away to help the organizing committee’s operations for an additional four years and to start helping youth sports.
The actual contingency fund, more than $487 million, would become a surplus if the L.A. Games can once again come in at or under budget. That would bring even more money to the youth of Southern California.
So, while I’d selfishly prefer to see an L.A. Olympics in 2024 when I’d be 68, it’s much better for the greater good if I wait until 2028 when I’m 72.