Saturday, August 5, 2017

Yet Another Open Letter to Janet Evans About the 2024 (and 2028) Olympics

The latest news about where the next two - yes, the next two - summer Olympiads are being held requires me to once again write an open letter to Olympic swimming champion Janet Evans, in her capacity as Vice Chair of the Athletes Commission for Los Angeles' bid for the 2024 Olympic Games, as I now have reason to assume that she is in line for a major role in an official 2028 Olympic organizing committee.
Dear Janet:
Okay, I was wrong.  No sense in trying to approach this evasively, but yes, I'm coming out and saying it - I was wrong; Los Angeles is getting the Olympics.  But in 2028, not 2024, as the decision has been made to award the Summer Games after Tokyo to Paris, and then the Olympiad after that to LA.  But I still say that you and your fellow southern Californians have to wait four years longer than you wanted to in large part because no one wanted to take the chance of Donald Trump somehow getting re-elected President in 2020 (which could still happen) and officiating at the Olympics in the last year of a second term.  I guess Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's efforts to honor the Paris Agreement - the agreement about climate change, which Trump won't support, not the one about the Olympics, which lets Paris go first - got LA some brownie points after all.
So, congratulations.  But bear in mind, Janet, that the bid committee you have proudly served will have to re-adjust the costs for Los Angeles to host the Games, because, as the New York Times reported, the original cost estimates were based on a seven-year, not an eleven-year, forecast, and that the time difference will render the cost projections becoming exponentially higher even by conservative budgeting.  Also, Rick Burton, a former chief marketing officer for the United States Olympic Committee, admitted that some LA sports venues may need to be upgraded with new technology, and that new venues may be needed altogether if more events are added.  And I think he said something about the possibility of a severe natural disaster like an earthquake, which is always impossible to predict.
But then, New York bid for the Olympics once, and Hurricane Sandy proved that natural disasters could affect a hypothetical Olympiad in the Northeast.  And you, Janet, like most southern Californians, know how to deal with an earthquake.  We in the Northeast still haven't completely recovered from Sandy.  I just hope you don't get another drought a decade and change from now.
But you guys did get a sweetheart deal for the Games, didn't you, Janet? The International Olympic Committee has promised to grant $1.8 billion - billion, with a b - to the Los Angeles organizing committee and $180 million in advance payments for the extra four years to prepare for 2028 - and even some money for youth sports programs now instead of later!  How did you swing that?  I'll bet you yourself had something to do with the negotiations, huh, Janet?  Because you can charm anyone with that chipper Southern California accent of yours!  You could sell ice cubes to an Eskimo!  (Not that you would sell ice cubes to Eskimos . . . )
What surprises me, apart from this deal that leaves Paris and Los Angeles both big winners, is that this wasn't - and isn't - going to be official before the meeting of the International Committee (IOC) on September 13, and IOC president Thomas Bach just couldn't wait that long to announce it.  When he stood with Eric Garcetti and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo to make the announcement, he looked like he owned the earth.  Well, he does, at least the part of the earth where international sports are played.  And the Los Angeles City Council and the United States Olympic Committee still have to approve this, I understand, but, don't worry, Janet, I'm sure they will.
Having said all that, Janet, my criticisms about Los Angeles from my open letter to you in July 2016 still stand.  Los Angeles has already hosted the Games twice.  Also, it's more of a suburban-sprawl settlement than a city,  it doesn't have a vibrant cultural life, and it's too dependent on car travel (however, I award LA points for trying to expand its rapid transit service). It's nothing personal, it's just that I'm from the Northeast, and we roll differently out here.  Besides, as Will Smith once observed, you can't even get a decent Philly-style steak sandwich in LA.  And of course, I, like Will Smith, I'm sure, would have loved to see the Games in Philadelphia.  Oh, well, maybe Philly will get the Pan American Games one day.  And if the City of Brotherly Love ever does bid for the Pan Ams, I hope you will be supportive.  And I highly recommend that you visit Philadelphia one day if you haven't already.
I recommend Pat's Steaks for a good steak sandwich. Cheese is optional, but onions are de rigeur.  Just be careful with the grease - you hold that sandwich the wrong way and it will slide right out of your hands.  And if you get any grease on your sundress, well, I'm sorry, Janet, there's no detergent strong enough to get it out.  It might even eat a hole into the fabric.
Steven Maginnis
P.S.  As always, you know I still love you, right?  I must, since I gave you fair warning about Philly steak sandwiches. :-D 

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