Professor of Urban Planning and Social Welfare Ananya Roy was featured in a KCET article about the NOlympics LA group mobilizing to resist the 2028 Olympic Games. On the day of the Olympics Opening Ceremony in Tokyo, the NOlympics group held a “NOpening Ceremony” in Echo Park to rally support for the movement to stop the 2028 Games from coming to Los Angeles. The event was co-sponsored by the UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy. “We are gathered here as a counterpoint to the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo Games,” said Roy, director of the institute and moderator of the event. “That Olympic spectacle, that seeming dream image, is in fact a nightmare… [It] has always been a land profiteering scheme with the excuse of world harmony.” Pointing to a history of racial injustice, policing and class oppression associated with the Olympic Games, the NOlympics group aims to build transnational resistance and reject Olympics anywhere in the world.
Los Angeles Initiative Director Zev Yaroslavsky joined a wide-ranging conversation on KCRW’s “Greater LA” focusing on what Los Angeles can learn from the Tokyo Olympics as it prepares to host the Summer Games in 2028. Yaroslavsky was a member of the L.A. City Council when the city hosted the 1984 Olympics. Since then, Los Angeles has seen the construction of new sports venues and transit lines, as well as dormitories at USC and UCLA that can serve as an Olympic Village, he said. “The most significant difference between ’84 and the current state of affairs is that in 1984, the City of Los Angeles refused to sign the guarantee that the International Olympic Committee demands of every host city, and that is the guarantee that [the city] will cover all expenses,” he said. In Tokyo, costs projected at $7.4 billion skyrocketed to $15.4 billion. In 2028, Los Angeles will be on the hook for any final damages if the Games fail to meet projected revenues.
The notion that cities chosen to host the Olympics are guaranteed to reap a financial windfall for years to come is flatly untrue, according to noted U.S. economist Andrew Zimbalist, who has spent years scrutinizing the costs and benefits of major sporting events. Zimbalist dissected the extravagant promises and deep pitfalls of past Olympic experiences and handicapped Los Angeles’ chances of success in hosting the 2028 Summer Games at the Luskin School’s first Transdisciplinary Speaker Series event of the academic year. Host cities have been beset by cost overruns, environmental degradation and displacement of local populations, he said. And with fewer cities willing to bid for the Games, the International Olympic Committee has been forced to consider hosts with questionable human rights records. “It’s valuable to have the best athletes from around the world congregate in the Olympic Village and live together and model what peaceful co-existence looks like,” he said, “I just don’t like the way it’s organized now.” As for the upcoming L.A. Games, “Yes, there’s a risk, but I think it’s a safe risk,” said Zimbalist, an author and professor of economics at Smith College. Southern California is already home to major sports venues and other infrastructure, including a ready-made Olympic Village at the UCLA dormitories, which also accommodated athletes during the city’s 1984 Games. For the future, Zimbalist envisioned permanent Olympic venues — for summer, perhaps in the area between Olympia and Athens, Greece. “There’s no reason, either environmental or economic, to argue for rebuilding the Olympic Shangri-La in a new place every four years,” he said.
In an LAist article, Urban Planning Professor Martin Wachs commented on the history behind the lack of one-way streets in Los Angeles compared to East Coast cities. Los Angeles built wide roads to accommodate the automobiles and streetcars popular in the first half of the 20th century, Wachs said. The wide streets and long blocks characteristic of Los Angeles would make one-way streets difficult, he added. Los Angeles experimented by converting Pico and Olympic to one-way streets to ease traffic for the 1984 Olympics, but complaints from residents and business owners resulted in the restoration of two-way traffic. “One-way streets tend to work best when blocks are short and streets are narrow, so cars can easily loop around to reach their destination. When there are five or six lanes of traffic, like Venice Boulevard, cars have to merge over too many lanes to make a turn and the flow of traffic gets messy,” Wachs explained.
The UCLA Luskin Transdisciplinary Speaker Series invites you to join Smith College Economics Professor Andrew Zimbalist as he tackles the claim that cities chosen to host high-profile sporting events such as the Olympic Games and World Cup experience an economic windfall.
Zimbalist, the Robert A. Woods Professor of Economics at Smith College, is the author of “Circus Maximus: The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting the Olympics and the World Cup.” He has been a visiting professor at Doshisha University, the University of Geneva and Hamburg University and has consulted in Latin America for the United Nations Development Program, the U.S. Agency for International Development and numerous companies. He has also served as a consultant in the sports industry for players’ associations, cities, companies, citizens groups, teams and leagues.
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