In a move that cemented Los Angeles’s run for the 2024 Olympics, the U.S. Olympic Committee endorsed the city as its candidate for the Games last week. The endorsement has revitalized the spirits of Angelenos and Trojans alike, reviving fond memories for USC alumni who were on campus when the University helped host the 1984 Games and raising hope for those who plan to be in Los Angeles in 2024. For the University, another chance to host the Games would both bolster the school’s international reputation and provide an unforgettable experience to students.
As many Angelenos and Southern California residents will attest, the 1984 Games left a memorable and lasting legacy on Los Angeles. L.A. arrived on the scene at a time when the International Olympic Committee and the Olympics were in egregiously poor shape. The United States had boycotted the previous 1980 Games in Moscow because of Cold War tensions and the political gamesmanship that marked that era. Few countries even wished to bid for the 1984 Games as previous hosts had spent millions of dollars to host, only to lose money. In 1984, the L.A. Games, led by business executive Peter Ueberroth, changed the narrative surrounding the Olympics and produced one of the most successful Olympic Games to date, garnering a cadre of sponsors, appealing across the globe with media and TV deals and boasting a $250 million surplus. Many venues supporting the Games, including USC, were left with a lasting impact. The campus was used to house athletes in the Athletes Village and the infrastructure built was later converted to dining halls and dormitories for future students. Café 84, for instance, was built for and is named after the 1984 Games.
With all the success that ’84 brought, Los Angeles and USC only stand to benefit from hosting the 2024 Olympic Games. By 2024, 40 years after 1984 and 28 years since the Olympics were in the United States, a whole generation of Americans will not have seen an Olympic Games on their own soil.
Aside from general favorable publicity, hosting the Games at USC reinforces the University’s role as an international institution. Just as it did in 1984, the 2024 Olympics could expose students even more to the global citizenship for which it stands. The University has for years forged a legacy of offering a global education — even in 1930, USC ranked third in the United States for international enrollment. Having lost the number one spot last November, the Games could continue the narrative that USC is a place for an education that truly transcends national borders.
Though arguably we aren’t wanting for it, the Games could revitalize school and national pride. The years approaching 2024 will likely attract even more competitive applicants to the University and could be a chance to further advance USC’s national and international prestige.
The Games’ costs to the University, however, must be also be considered. And though USC will have already begun a $500-million overhaul of the Coliseum by the time more definitive decisions about the Games will be made, hosting the Olympics will most likely pose a real cost to the University in the form of renovations and updates. However, considering that much of the same infrastructure exists from the 1984 Games, structural updates will not be as extensive as they would be for other host cities — so the University’s hosting would be more cost-effective.
The 2024 Games represents a golden opportunity for USC, its students and all Angelenos to show the world the strength and vitality of Los Angeles. A sprawling anti-metropolis resistant to any traditional or orthodox convention of a city, Los Angeles is constantly reinventing and being reinvented. Los Angeles in 1984 is not the Los Angeles today and will not be the same Los Angeles in 2024. The Southland will not be without competition, however. Paris, France; Hamburg, Germany; Rome, Italy; and Budapest, Hungary, have all submitted bids to host. Paris has hosted the Olympics once in 1924, Rome in 1960, while Hamburg and Budapest have never hosted an Olympics. Los Angeles has the experience to successfully put on an Olympic Games in a time where the IOC is still reeling from accusations of corruption and criticism of quid pro quo politics and tactics. While Rome and Paris may seem like ostensible, exotic choices, L.A. is truly a global city and there is no better fit and time for the city to host the XXXIII Olympiad.
Daily Trojan Fall 2015 Editorial Board