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LA Olympic committee scraps billion-dollar athlete village in bid for '24 games

The proposed village would have cost more than $1 billion and would have been placed along the Los Angeles River.
By Doug G. Ware   |   Jan. 25, 2016 at 8:49 PM

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Los Angeles Olympic organizers on Monday said they have decided to shelve an expensive plan to build an athlete village, which had been a key feature of the city's bid to win the 2024 summer games.

The LA 2024 Committee announced the village will not be built -- and that if the city becomes the host site for the world competition in eight years, the Olympic and Paralympic athletes will instead be housed at existing residential complexes at the University of California-Los Angeles.

The media village, which would need to accommodate thousands of reporters from around the world, would be placed at the University of Southern California.

On paper, the original village plan would have cost more than $1 billion and would have placed the athletes along the Los Angeles River. Unofficially, some officials said the cost was likely to be closer to $2 billion.

Monday, organizers said that although the project would have been financed privately, they have realized that building a new Olympic housing complex from the ground up is simply unnecessary.

"We have selected UCLA as the site of our Olympic village, and the University of Southern California -- another amazing institution that is at the center of our Olympic past, present and future -- as the site for our media village," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a news conference. "You want to build the facilities where the athletes could train and feel at home right next to where they were living during their time. That's what we have right here."

The original proposal would have become one of the largest development undertakings in recent Los Angeles memory. After the games, the housing facility would have been sold off to developers.

Some officials and residents have been skeptical of building such a large development at such great cost for an event that runs for two weeks. By shifting the villages to UCLA and USC, the committee is substantially cutting down the cost of one of the Olympic Games' most traditionally important venues.

"These venue choices are not only of the highest quality, they are also fiscally responsible, sustainable and deliverable" Garcetti added. "We are fitting our plan for the Olympic games to our city, not the other way around."

"This approach of using existing facilities ensures certain delivery and allows LA 2024 to give even greater focus on the athletes' experience, shaping the most innovative and creative Games to inspire a new generation," the committee said.

More than 16,500 athletes are expected to participate in the 2024 Summer Olympic Games.

Last year, the International Olympic Committee narrowed down the candidate field to five cities -- Los Angeles, Paris, Rome, Budapest, Hungary, and Hamburg, Germany. Since that time, though, referendum voters in Germany opposed Hamburg's bid -- leaving four candidates.

Boston was originally chosen by the U.S. Olympic Committee as the American bid city for 2024, but city leaders withdrew the bid last year amid fear of cost overruns. The USOC then awarded the nomination to Los Angeles.

Los Angeles has hosted the summer games twice before, in 1932 and 1984. If chosen by the IOC, it would join London (1908, 1948, 2012) as one of just two cities to host the Olympic Games three times.

The formal selection of the 2024 host city is scheduled to be made Sept. 13, 2017.

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