Is a $10 billion partnership enough to guarantee at least one Olympics on home soil? How about three-quarters of that amount, which is what the American TV network NBC has paid in media rights to the International Olympic Committee in broadcast fees for US exclusive rights to the Games thru 2032. We’ll certainly know the answer 12 months from now.
On September 13th, 2017, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will announce the host city for the 2024 Olympic Games at their 130th Session in Lima, Peru. Earlier this year, I gave my reasons why I felt Los Angeles would likely be selected ahead of fellow candidate cities, Paris, Budapest and Rome. (You can read that here
). A year out from host city selection, the LA 2024 bid looks to be the favorite, though Paris remains a parallel front runner, and Budapest has rallied itself back into the conversation. Rome, on the other hand, seems already to be looking towards 2028. Here are three factors to consider about the likely 2024 bid selection.
American Television – NBC
NBC has boosted IOC coffers by $7.75 billion thru 2032, and in return, at least thus far, it gets three straight Olympics in the most challenging time zones for American viewers. The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, and the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, each represent a time difference north of 11 hours from the east coast of the U.S., and 14 hours out west. An Olympics in any of the other 2024 Candidate Cities, would add another 6-hour time difference with New York, quite reminiscent of the challenges of London 2012. And with no guarantee the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) would mount a 2028 bid, the Olympics’ largest financier would not have an Olympics on home soil despite paying billions for broadcast rights.
Bid City Opposition – Rome and Budapest
Virginia Raggi, the recently elected Mayor of Rome, belongs to the populist Five Star Movement, an upstart political party started by a blogger whose core philosophy opposes the Rome 2024 bid. In the recent Italian elections in June, the party made stunning electoral gains and Raggi was quoted as saying the Olympics are not a priority for Rome. Though she has not signaled outright opposition to Rome’s 2024 candidacy, she’s not likely to encourage it either, which doesn’t exactly reassure IOC leaders in Lausanne.
In Budapest, current polling shows 60 percent of Hungarians would support an Olympic bid. However, a proposed referendum could make its way to the ballots, potentially causing deep divisions within a population already concerned with the financial consequences to a city with more urgent infrastructure needs. Budapest has quietly garnered support for its longshot bid and appears to have reinvented its candidacy. It should be noted, however, that in the previous 100 years, only Atlanta has won an Olympic bid on its first try, which suggests a tough sell for the Hungarian capital.
That leaves LA and Paris as the front runners, both cities touting innovation and experience as core tenants of their respective bids.
Japanese Innovation in 2020 Will Matter
Tokyo celebrates winning 2020 bid (Getty Images)
Tokyo will use its 2020 Olympic platform to reinvent itself as Asia’s preeminent power in technology, electronics and manufacturing, not unlike its post war strategy when it last hosted the Summer Olympics in 1964. In the last decade, the Japanese economy has slipped to World #3 behind rival China, and its once dominant automotive and electronics industries are now pressured by South Korean industry. Tokyo is not likely to pull any punches in elevating the Olympic brand into the Millennial age, and the IOC will want a 2024 host city that matches, sustains and extends the innovation Japan will certainly accord these Games.
LA's Memorial Coliseum has hosted two Olympic Games (Getty Images)
Enter Los Angeles. Not only is it the western capital of the Pacific Rim, the city is home to some of the most creative minds in music, movies and entertainment, all platforms where Millennials reside. Additionally, the city is located hours from the epicenter of global technology in Silicon Valley (think Facebook, Google, Apple) whose technology and products are directly embedded in the DNA of over a billion people worldwide. This audience matters to the Olympic Movement and so will innovation going forward.
Predicting which city will be announced a year from now as the host for the 2024 Olympic Games is a crapshoot at best, but the real winner is the IOC and its Agenda 2020 Reform program which brought “Olympic Cities” back to the bidding process. This is a far cry from its struggles to find a credible host to literally “take” the 2022 Winter Games prior to what felt like a settling for Beijing (no offense, but Beijing doesn’t exactly scream winter sports heritage).
By emphasizing the use of existing sporting facilities, minimizing spending on new development, shielding taxpayers from losses, and creating a bid with a meaningful post-Olympic legacy, LA has made a very strong case for both itself and for the Olympic brand. While Paris, Budapest and Rome are all capable stewards of the Olympic flame, the world will likely be celebrating the 40th anniversary of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games in the City of Angels.
Written by Idy Uyoe, M.A.
Idy Uyoe (www.idysports.com) is an Olympic scholar, commentator and sports marketing professional. He is an active member of the International Society of Olympic Historians and is the producer and host of the online series The Olympic Moment – with new episodes available on YouTube and Facebook. Follow him on Twitter @idysports.