LONDON (AP) — Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti took his city's newly-launched bid for the 2024 Summer Games to IOC headquarters on Thursday, saying it's time "to bring the Olympics back home" to the United States after an absence of nearly three decades.
Garcetti and U.S. Olympic leaders met with IOC President Thomas Bach in Lausanne, Switzerland, to discuss their proposals for hosting the first Summer Games in the U.S. since Atlanta held the 1996 Olympics.
The meeting came just two days after the U.S. Olympic Committee named Los Angeles as its candidate city as a replacement for Boston, whose troubled bid was dropped in late July amid financial concerns and a lack of public and political support.
"I think it is time for America to bring the Olympics back home," Garcetti said in a conference call with reporters after the talks with Bach and other IOC officials. "The United States loves the Olympics and the Olympics loves the United States."
Los Angeles, which hosted the 1932 and 1984 Games, shapes up as a strong contender and potential favorite after the stinging defeats for New York and Chicago in the votes for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, respectively. The '84 Games produced a $250 million surplus and provided a model for the commercial financing of the Olympics.
"We understand not only how to compete and win the Olympics, but also how to run them," Garcetti said.
The mayor was accompanied at the IOC by bid chairman Casey Wasserman and U.S. Olympic Committee chairman Larry Probst and CEO Scott Blackmun.
Garcetti and Probst met privately for about 30 minutes with Bach, who said following Boston's withdrawal from the race that the International Olympic Committee had a "commitment" from the USOC that it would find another candidate.
"It was very important for us to show that Los Angeles has ... thought through this bid," Garcetti said. "Any campaign is about relationships."
The Boston bid debacle was not discussed during the meetings, the U.S. officials said. Blackmun said the issue "will be forgotten."
"It was not a backward looking conversation at all," Garcetti said. "Boston made a decision that was probably right for Boston. Los Angeles made a decision that was right for Los Angeles."
The mayor said Los Angeles has 85 percent of venues in place or already planned. The city says its plans fit perfectly with the IOC's "Olympic Agenda 2020" program, which seeks affordable games and maximum use of existing and temporary facilities.
Los Angeles joins a field that includes Paris; Rome; Hamburg, Germany; and Budapest, Hungary. Toronto and Baku, Azerbaijan, had also been mulling bids but have given no indication they will enter by the Sept. 15 deadline.
"Los Angeles is a very welcome addition to a strong field of competitors," Bach said in a statement Thursday. "We have been informed that LA 2024 has already embraced the Olympic Agenda 2020 reforms by making use of many existing facilities and the legacy of the Olympic Games 1984. Their vision is for the Olympic Games to serve as a catalyst in the development plan for the city."
The U.S. delegation also met separately with a wider IOC group that included executive director of the Olympic Games Christophe Dubi and director general Christophe De Kepper. The meetings formed part of the new "invitation phase" that allows candidate cities and prospective contenders to discuss their plans with the IOC ahead of the formal bid race.
"We look forward to being part of an amazing competition with truly global cities," Garcetti said. "We think this is an exciting process, one in which we can show that exciting games and sustainability are not mutually exclusive."
Wasserman said Los Angeles has already raised $35 million for the bid campaign. Bid costs in previous summer bids have often exceeded $60 million.
While previous U.S. bids have been dogged by disputes over providing guarantees to cover any cost overruns, Garcetti said Los Angeles would operate a financially sound games.
"First and foremost, my responsibility is to my city through its infrastructure and fiscal health," he said. "I would never do anything to endanger that."
Garcetti, meanwhile, said Los Angeles will use stars and celebrities from the sports and entertainment world to help promote the bid.
"We want to showcase the city's diversity and star power," he said. "We can host not just a sustainable games, but sexy games."