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The opening and closing ceremonies for a 2024 Olympic Games in Los Angeles would be held at both the Coliseum and the $2.66 billion stadium in Inglewood, linking the city's rich Olympic history and the region's 21st century vision.
With the decision to use both the Coliseum, one of the Olympic movement's most iconic venues, and the most expensive and technologically advanced stadium to be built, Los Angeles 2024 officials have tried to separate their bid from rivals Paris and Budapest by emphasizing - some would say flaunting - the area's wealth of existing world-class venues and its proximity to the center of the entertainment and technology universes.
"LA 2024's opening and closing ceremonies concept will bring together our city's Olympic heritage, our iconic and state-of-the-art venues and our leadership in entertainment, technology and youth culture," said Anita DeFrantz, International Olympic Committee executive board member and LA 2024 senior advisor. "Our ceremonies will capture the imagination of fans across America and around the globe. As an athlete, knowing that the eyes of the world are on you is incredibly inspiring."
Under the plan revealed Monday, the opening ceremony, proposed by LA 2024 for July 19, 2024, would open with a torch relay down the peristyle of the Coliseum as part of a live entertainment event in front of 70,000 spectators. The torch relay would proceed approximately eight miles through Los Angeles' neighborhoods to the enclosed Inglewood stadium on the former site of the Hollywood Park racetrack.
The Inglewood stadium, which would hold 100,000 for the event, will stage the formal elements of the opening ceremony, including the parade of nations and the lighting of the Olympic cauldron. The cauldron would then be moved to the Coliseum, described by an LA 2024 official as the "sports cathedral of Los Angeles" and host of the 1932 and 1984 Olympic ceremonies.
The Coliseum will host the extinguishing of the cauldron and the other formal elements of the closing ceremony on Aug. 4 while a "live viewing and high-tech entertainment" will be held simultaneously at the Inglewood stadium. The Hollywood Park venue, which will be located in the heart of a 298-acre sports, entertainment and commercial development by Rams owner Stan Kroenke, is scheduled to be completed in 2019 and was awarded Super Bowl LV in 2021 last year. The Coliseum would also host the 2024 Games' athletic centerpiece - the nine-day track and field competition.
The plan was shaped by months of discussions with veterans of past Olympic opening and closing ceremonies productions as well as virtual reality and other technology experts, and will continue to evolve as technology does, LA 2024 officials said.
The two-venue plan, however, is seen by some longtime Olympic movement observers as a high-profile gamble that could backfire with some IOC members. Describing the ceremonies proposal as potentially an "important factor" in selecting the 2024 host city, LA 2024's plan is a "clear ... differentiating factor, a good one, that sets themselves apart," said Robert Livingstone, a Toronto-based Olympic historian and senior editor of GamesBids.com.
But Livingstone cautions the LA 2024 plan could be seen by some IOC members as too over the top at a time when the IOC is trying to lower costs and extravagance with Agenda 2020, the IOC's self-proclaimed reform package.
Paris is proposing to use Stade de France in the northern suburban Saint-Denis as its opening and closing ceremonies site as well as its track and field venue. Stade de France, the world's largest modular stadium, has hosted the 1998 World Cup, 2007 Rugby World Cup and 2016 European Championships' finals, as well as the 2003 World Track and Field Championships.
Budapest's bid calls for the ceremonies to be held at the Ferenc Puskas Stadium, a new venue named after the 1950's Hungary and Real Madrid soccer icon. Construction on Puskas Stadium, like the Inglewood venue, is scheduled to be completed in 2019.
The IOC will select the 2024 Games host city on Sept. 13 in Lima, Peru.
"It will get mixed reaction (with IOC members)," Livingstone said of the LA 2024 plan. "Agenda 2020 is trying to put limits on things and this is very elaborate. It could set off an arms race (with future bids thinking) 'If we do win 2028 do we have to use two stadiums (for the ceremonies)?'
"There are risks involved (for LA 2024). It could be perceived as a little too much at a time when the IOC is trying to tone things down."
IOC administers have been aware of the two-venue ceremonies plan for months and were regularly updated, LA 2024 officials said.
"The IOC is positive about our plans," LA 2024 chief executive officer Gene Sykes said. "And what we've talked to them about I think they're very supportive. We've been consistently keeping IOC informed about all the things we're doing."
The plan's announcement came a day before the Los Angeles City Council is expected to unanimously approve a Memorandum of Understanding between the city and LA 2024 that gives the council a voice in the planning of the Games and gives the city protection against a financial deficit.
It also comes three weeks before the Feb. 3 deadline for LA 2024 to submit Stage III documents on the Games' delivery, experience and venue legacy to the IOC.
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