By Rory Carroll
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The Los Angeles City Council on Friday voted unanimously to authorize the city to sign a contract with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to host the 2028 Summer Games.
The contract gives the city a greater share of any financial surplus from the Games and includes an IOC contribution of $2 billion but also leaves Los Angeles to cover any cost overruns associated with the $5.3 billion sporting event.
“This opportunity is too great, we cannot pass it up,” Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson said before the vote.
“Who knows what the future holds but I have faith in you and this body that if anything comes up we will make the necessary adjustments to make this the most successful Games in the history of the Olympics.”
Despite the 12-0 council vote, dozens of protesters opposed to the agreement shouted anti-Games slogans during the meeting and at the news conference afterwards.
“We’re really disappointed in today’s result,” said Steve Ducey, a spokesman for the ‘No Olympics Los Angeles Coalition’, citing the city’s problems with homelessness, which has risen 23 percent in the past year according to the latest city data.
“Fifty-five thousand people on the streets of LA County every night and the Olympic Games isn’t going to fix that. And historically it makes that situation significantly worse,” he added.
Nine-time Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis, a member of the LA 2028 council, believes the Games could help with LA’s social and economic issues.
“The Olympic Games isn’t just about sports. This is about our lives. It’s about making a difference and we can come together and work on all the issues and problems we have together,” he said.
Under the agreement, LA 2028, the committee behind the city’s Olympic campaign, will invest up to $160 million to increase youth sports programmes in the city during the 11 year run-up to the Games.
“Today’s vote by the City Council is a resounding show of confidence in our fiscally responsible plan for 2028 and more evidence of Angelenos’ passion to return the Games to LA,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement after the vote.
Los Angeles officials have said the city would not need to build any new permanent venues to host the Games since LA already has multiple stadiums, arenas and college campuses.
The vote clears the way for Paris to host the 2024 Games. The IOC is expected to vote to simultaneously award the 2024 and 2028 Games hosting rights when it meets in Lima, Peru in September.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll; Additional reporting by Ben Gruber; editing by Ken Ferris)