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Olympic Games 2024
"We offer really a no risk and truely sustainable solution"

Los Angeles wants to be the host of the 2024 Olympic Summer Games. Gene Sykes, CEO of the Canidature Committee, wants to win the Games back to L.A. for the third time after 1932 and 1984. But how does the Olympic Spirit match with the politics of President Trump?

Gene Sykes in an interview with DLF's Astrid Rawohl | 28.05.2017

    Im "Memorial Coliseum" in Los Angeles fanden schon die Olympischen Spiele 1932 und 1984 statt.
    The Olympic Games 1932 and 1984 took place at the "Memorial Coliseum" in Los Angeles. (AFP / Mark Ralston)
    Astrid Rawohl: What are the most important arguments pro LA?
    Gene Sykes: The Olympic and Paralympic Games should come to LA in 2024 because in LA we have no permanent structures or venues to built and we have tremendous local public support - with the recent poll that shows that 88% of the public support the Olympic Games. And therefore we offer really a no risk and truely sustainable solution for the future of the Olympic movement in 2024 and beyond. And I believe we are the most prepared bid for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
    Rawohl: Do you think, these points are more convincing than the concept of Paris?
    Sykes: We believe, we have the right bid for 2024 for the reasons I described to you. But in addition to all of these very, very good reasons, only LA is the place, the community in the world where the use and technology and innovation and creativity all come together so that that community can put itself in the middle of the Olympic movement and help the Olympic movement be vigourous and effective with young people for the next several generations. We have no financial risk, we've got tremendous support and we have the opportunity to connect the Olympic movement with young people to our technology, creativity and innovation, those are really the points that I think are the strong points that favour LA for 2024.
    "We have the right answer for 2024"
    Rawohl: Thinking of the 9th of June: What kind of decision do you expect from the IOC executive committee in Lausanne?
    Sykes: Well we're not sure, what the executive board will do, we are very willing to listen and work closely with the IOC, we've got an excellent relationship and have felt very good about how the IOC has conducted this process with us and so we are very open to further conversations with them in ways that we can be helpful.
    Rawohl: Because of the lack of many different candidates, it is very likely, that both cities Paris and LA will get their games. Both cities aim for 2024, but would 2028 be ok for you, too?
    Sykes: Well, as we've said, we are competing for 2024, because we believe, we have the right answer for 2024. And we believe we have both the best bid and that we are the most prepared for 2024. So our focus is really entirely on 2024 and that's what we have prepared for and what we have competed for for the past several years here.
    Rawohl: That's a very political correct statement, but I think I would hear the same from the Paris CEO!
    Sykes: Perhaps!
    Illuminierter Eifelturm: Paris präsentiert seine Kampagne zur Olympiabewerbung 2024.
    Paris wants the Olympics 2024. (imago - PanoramiC)
    Rawohl: And if the IOC decides for Paris, would then 2028 be no option for you?
    Sykes: Well let me be clear, we understand the IOC wants to consider 2024 and 2028 at the same time. We think that's a smart move on the part of the IOC and they want to make sure they have mapped out their future in a way which limits the amount of turmoil or uncertainties, which is a good thing. We believe it's especially good, if the 2024 city provides stability, low risk for the next seven years, not more of the same and new ideas, which is of course, why we are so strongly in favour of making that LA for 2024.
    Rawohl: In many democratic countries in Europe Olympic Games are no longer attractive. Too expensive is only one reason ... what do you think about that?
    "We can prove, that it is possible to host the olympic games in a way which is sustainable"
    Sykes: Well, I can't speak for other countries, but I can tell you in our community, we have tremendous very, very significant parties of support. In part because Los Angeles hosted the 1984 games very succesfully. Those games had a very significant surplus and much of that surplus was used to make investments in the sporting infrastructure and the young people's sporting programm throughout this community. That's been very successful and so both the memory of the Olympic Games in 1984 and the legacy from those games have been grately appreciated by our community. So in this community, the Olympic and Paralympic Games are standingly popular.
    Rawohl: Some people say, the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games saved the International Olympic Committee financially. Could 2024 Los Angeles Summer Games have a similarly profound impact on the IOC?
    Sykes: We believe they will have a profound impact on the IOC, we believe with a great deal of enthusiasm, that if we are selected to host the games, we can make the games in LA both a spectacular experience, and an experience which has very little risk and can prove to the IOC and other cities, that it is possible to host the Olympic games in a way which is sustainable, which is low risk, which does not cause a great deal of stress in a local community and has the benefit of achieving the remarkable connection to young people with the Olympic games promises.
    Astrid: How huge is LA's budget for the games?
    Sykes: The budget, that we have published publicly is 5.3 billion US dollars, that includes the contingency of nearly 500 million dollars. And that is a budget, that we have prepared after almost 18 months of very intense work with people in the city of LA, the departments of the city and all of the partners that we have to help us host the games. And I might add that budget is entirely privately funded. So in the case of LA there is no contribution in that budget by any public agency or a tax paid funded investment by the city or any other governmental party.
    I must say, I've been working at this for almost two years myself and I have not met a single person in LA, who is anything but incredibly enthusiastic about the idea of the Olympic and Paralympic Games being here in LA. We have tremendous enthusiasm for sports here and because of our very good weather, because of the openness of our society, because of the multi-cultural atmosphere around here, it's a very accepting place, in which sports plays a very big role in how communities interact with each other. And therefore the Olympic and paralympic games are perfectly suited for Los Angeles. And because of that I think we have inherent enthusiasm, amazement, excitement.
    Der Chef der IOC-Evaluierungskommission, Patrick Baumann, beim Besuch in der Bewerberstadt für die Olympischen Spiele 2024, Los Angeles.
    The head of the IOC Evaluation Commission, Patrick Baumann, visiting Los Angeles. (imago sportfotodienst)
    I think all those terms apply and if you were to come here just as the members of the IOC evalution commission did two weeks ago and see the people, not so much the committee that I run, but all the people who work in the various places, where we will host events, the two big universities, USC and UCLA, or any of the sporting venues, that we are going to use, such as Staples Center, for example or any of the commodities the parks and other places. The widespread and universal enthusiasm is notable, is unforgettable. And when the IOC members came here and they saw everything, on the one hand they said that our preparation was mindblowing. They were so impressed. On the other hand one of the best remarks we had when they gave us their assessment was from one of the members who he said, he felt happy. Because he saw how delighted the people were to think about hosting the Olympic and paralympic games, and so that is exactly the message that we want to deliver, and we believe that if people see us and have the opportunity to experience what we experience here, they' ll come away with the same impression. And what could be better?
    "I don't think, the Olympics is about politics"
    Rawohl: Presidential support is helpful, Barack Obama supported Chicago once, did you already ask President Trump?
    Sykes: President Trump is very supportive of the Olympic games he has actually had a conversation with President Bach by phone, he has invited him to come to the White House, he has expressed his very strong support for us and when the IOC evaluation commission was here to visit us, we presented them letters from the president, which showed his support and his determination to make sure, that all of the things that we need from the federal government in the way of support are things that he will be very certain to be behind.
    Leider liegt für dieses Bild keine Bildbeschreibung vor
    US President Donald Trump likes golf. (dpa/picture alliance/Lawson)
    Rawohl: But what about the Olympic Idea? Does the Olympic spirit fit with Trumps politics? I don't see many parallels.
    Sykes: Well I don't think, the Olympics is about politics. I think, that the did itself is more about the Olympic spirit and I believe that we will have all the support we need and everything that we have asked for from the administration we have received without question and as quickly as possible. So I believe that we have everything in very good shape.
    Rawohl: Mexiko, the US and Kanada join to host the FIFA-world championship 2026, does this have any impact on the summer Games?
    Sykes: I don't believe so, recall that the FIFA World Cup was hosted by the US in 1994 and the 1996 games followed two years after that. I don't think it impact us one way or the other whether it's the FIFA World Cup in Mexiko, Canada and the US or not.
    Rawohl: One last question, why did you leave Goldman Sachs to become the CEO of LA´s bid. What is your personal intent?
    Sykes: Well first of all, when I was asked to consider this it was an unexpected thing from my standpoint. I did not anticipate it. So it was a surprise. But the Olympic and paralympic games have a very unique character. So they immediately drew my attention. And as I began to look more closely at it, I realise that this would be a once in a lifetime opportunity for me personally and I feel that it is also a once in a lifetime opportunity for our community. And I think it's important to do service for the world and also for one's own community and hopefully by taking this time to lead (?) this effort I'll do that service and be very grateful to have had the opportunity to do it.