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It's official: Los Angeles will host Olympics in 2028

Los Angeles has been officially awarded the 2028 Olympics.
The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum will be part of the 2028 Olympics. Here the torch is illuminated in the colors of the LA2028 logo.(Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

The Summer Olympics are returning to the United States.

With a vote on Wednesday, the International Olympic Committee awarded the 2028 Games to Los Angeles as part of a historic move to select two host cities simultaneously. Paris was chosen to host the 2024 Olympics, which Los Angeles had also been bidding for before reaching an agreement with the French capital and the IOC in August.

The vote during the IOC’s session in Lima, Peru, gives the United States its first Summer Games in 32 years. It last hosted in 1996 in Atlanta.

Los Angeles, meanwhile, adds to its storied Olympic history. It previously hosted the Games in 1984 and 1932. It joins London and now Paris as the only three-time hosts.

The IOC’s vote went as expected after months of moving toward an unusual dual award of the Games. IOC President Thomas Bach has opined a bidding process that “produces too many losers,” and throughout the spring did not dismiss notions of awarding two Olympics simultaneously.

In July, the IOC membership unanimously voted to try to reach an agreement with the two cities. Paris long sought a 2024 Games on the centennial of its last Olympics, while Los Angeles remained more open to the possibility of hosting later.

The city gained concessions to delay hosting, with the IOC helping fund the Los Angeles’ Organizing Committee’s operations that now must run an additional four years and supporting youth sports programs in the city. It will contribute $1.8 billion for planning and organizing the Games with the potential to exceed $2 billion through existing sponsorship agreements and potential new marketing deals.

“I think we’re getting significant both guaranteed and revenue opportunities that will benefit our delivery of the Games in an economic way,” LA 2028 chairman Casey Wasserman told USA TODAY Sports last month.

For the IOC’s part, the dual award secures the Summer Olympics for more than a decade at a time when cities are rejecting the chance to host.

Thanks largely to opposition or lack of political support, eight cities have pulled out of the bidding process for the 2022 and 2024 Games. Only four have remained to the vote.

It also gives the IOC the chance to award Games to bids that Patrick Baumann, chair of the evaluation commission, called “outstanding.” The commission visited both cities in May, finding both to be low-risk and high-reward propositions for the cities and the IOC.

“With Los Angeles and Paris, the Olympic Games are in very good hands,” Baumann said in the evaluation commission report released in July.

That same commission offered further assessment of a Los Angeles bid this week, finding the chance to host the Games there in 2028 “would far outweigh the potential risk of awarding the Games 11 years in advance instead of seven years.”

Borne out of necessity and opportunity, the dual award presented a one-off solution for the IOC.

“For the IOC, it would have been a huge mistake not to seize this golden opportunity,” Bach said on Monday.

While historic, the decision has precedent. In 1921, the IOC awarded the 1924 Games to Paris and the 1928 Olympics to Amsterdam, according to Olympic historian Bill Mallon.

The IOC sought to give the Games to France because Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics, was retiring and wanted to have the Games in his home country. Los Angeles protested, and was later selected as host of the 1932 Games.

Those Games are part of Los Angeles’s long Olympic history. The city plans to use the Coliseum in 2028, meaning it will have been part of three Olympics.

Most memorably for current Angelenos, the city hosted in 1984 at a time when the IOC was in crisis. Following an attack in Munich in 1972 in which a Palestinian terrorist group killed 11 Israeli team members and Montreal going deeply into debt to host in 1976, no other cities bid to host those Games.

LA stepped forward, and as the only bidder did not sign a host city contract guaranteeing the Games. Peter Ueberroth set the model for a modern Games, turning a profit that funded the LA 84 Foundation, which has been funding youth sports programs since.

“I think it had an incredible impact on the city, both physically and emotionally,” Wasserman, who was 10 years old for those Games, told USA TODAY Sports in May. “And I think we have a chance to do that again.”

Los Angeles has bid 10 times, and its path to 2028 was long and circuitous. The U.S. Olympic Committee originally selected Boston in January 2015 during its domestic bidding phase.

But strong opposition and declining support sunk that bid, which died when Mayor Marty Walsh said in July 2015 that he would not sign the host city contract required by the IOC.

In September of that year, Los Angeles stepped back in as the USOC’s pick to replace Boston.

Following the IOC’s vote in July, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo celebrated the decision. At the time, they committed to working out a deal that culminated with each city getting an Olympics on Wednesday.

“I want to thank the people of my city, the Angelenos who have believed in the Olympics for over a century,” Garcetti said then. “For the first time in a generation, we’re going to bring you an Olympics home.”

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