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A FLAMING OLYMPIAN MESS
William Oscar Johnson
June 26, 1978
Los Angeles' chance to host the 1984 Summer Games is in danger. But as some politicians try to douse all remaining hopes, a band of Angelenos may yet salvage the day
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June 26, 1978

A Flaming Olympian Mess

Los Angeles' chance to host the 1984 Summer Games is in danger. But as some politicians try to douse all remaining hopes, a band of Angelenos may yet salvage the day

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The seven-member citizens' committee was an important step back toward sanity and away from illusion. For the first time, there was true civic clout involved in the Los Angeles Olympic effort, for Bradley had selected powerful people from business and labor, both Republicans and Democrats. Moreover, it is far more perilous for an ambitious politician to attack the motives and plans of people such as these than it is to assault fellow politicians down in the trenches. As if by magic, a relative hush fell over city hall.

One member of the committee, David Wolper, defined the new conditions this way: "The city is out of it now. We'll negotiate a deal with the IOC and we'll come back and just ask the blessing of the city. That's all we need, a kind of ceremonial support. There'll be no question of a tax deficit. This is an independent committee. We don't need anyone's financial help. The day we incorporate ourselves, we could have a $200 million line of credit. This thing should never have gotten to be a political issue, but no one has really been deeply involved except the politicians—until now. I am convinced that the IOC has wanted to get this thing settled and that it wants the games in L.A. We're going to do that. It's just a matter of mechanics."

Well, of course, it is probably more than that. Early last week Monique Berlioux, the director of the IOC, proclaimed stiffly from headquarters in Lausanne, "We simply cannot take responsibility for a city we do not control. So far as we are concerned, there is nothing left to negotiate."

But there is always a little something left to negotiate. Later in the week the citizens' committee named by Bradley filed papers with the California secretary of state's office, incorporating itself (with the USOC's legal imprimatur) as the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee. This gave the group the legal power to negotiate as a formal body with the IOC. It neatly removed the city government and its cacophonous crowd of opportunists from the whole affair. It opened the way for the IOC to save face without having to accommodate its rules to the city's political imperatives. What remained was for the IOC to agree that the committee of private citizens could be the responsible signer of the contract. To that end, Argue, Wolper and a couple of other blue-ribbon types flew to Montreal to meet with Monique Berlioux and other IOC representatives.

As they settled into the plush Queen Elizabeth Hotel there, suddenly the situation took on an optimistic glow again. Suddenly it seemed that, at last, logic might prevail, that the Olympics of '84 might actually be held in a place where they obviously belong.

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