Right or wrong, for all the interest and enthusiasm shown by the citizenry to date, Ueberroth might just as well be staging a PTA dance recital. "It's true," he says. "The only following we have so far is among the young and the older people who were at the 1932 Games. It's really a bright thing in their memories." And among other similarities, he's certain that the XXIII Olympiad is merely passing through the same kind of lull that preceded the storm of affection for the X Olympiad a half-century ago. Perhaps as a reminder, he keeps a banner from those Games hanging in his office, with the Olympic motto prominent: Citius, Aldus, Fortius: faster, higher, stronger.
Then as now, Ueberroth explains, the times were hard. "Many people objected to holding the Games in Los Angeles and some even stoned the offices of the organizing committee. Many nations said they wouldn't come. People were saying they wouldn't buy tickets. And there was an attempt to give the Games back."
But then, six months before the Olympics opened—presto!—the attitude of the entire city changed. "The enthusiasm took hold," Ueberroth says. "The people cleaned up the city, planted wildflowers in vacant lots. In the midst of the Depression they queued up for tickets and the Games were sold out."
Ueberroth vows that history will repeat itself. Make no mistake, he says, "This city is going to celebrate the Games. They will become a rallying point of pride in this country." And perhaps provide a rallying cry for future Olympics: cheaper, simpler, truer!