Los Angeles, CA

Hosting the Olympics is unpopular. What does that mean for Los Angeles 2028?

Eugene Adams

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Photo by Kyle Dias on Unsplash

For a long time, the Olympics was the crown jewel of sports. Winning an Olympic medal was looked at as one of the biggest athletic accomplishments. That led to it being an entertainment spectacle.

It’s hard to deny that the games are losing some of their popularity.

The television ratings are down, and there are no fans in Tokyo, thanks to Covid.

The rating drop is a recent development. Things have been going downhill for a while now.

The Olympics are extremely unpopular in Japan and many other places.

Other than Los Angeles and a few other cities, nobody even wants to host the Olympics anymore.

How did we get to this point?

And what does it mean for Los Angeles in 2028?

How Los Angeles Won The 2028 Games

The bidding process to host the 2024 Olympics games was historically poor. Six cities expressed interest in the beginning. However, only two officially submitted bids.

With Paris and Los Angeles being the only candidates, it forced the IOC to get creative.

Paris will host the 2024 games, and Los Angeles will host the 2028 games.

Why Almost Nobody Wants to Host

Hosting the Olympics used to be fierce competition. Sydney defeated eight other cities for the right to host in 2000.

Winning the right to host in 2032 was much easier for Brisbane. They ran unopposed.

Beijing is hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics in large part because Almaty Kazakstan was the only other city interested.

Why has hosting the Olympics become so unpopular?

Costs

There is no way around it. Hosting the Olympics costs a lot of money.

Japan claims to have spent $15.4 billion to host the 2021 Olympics. However, some private estimates are much higher.

Politics

In Japan, the Olympics are wildly unpopular. Depending on which poll you believe, between 60%-80% of Japan’s citizens oppose hosting the Olympics.

Things are so bad that Toyota, which has long been an Olympic sponsor, pulled all advertising from the games.

This is not just a Japanese issue.

  • Hungary dropped out of the bidding process for the 2024 Olympics due to how unpopular the idea was.
  • Germany had a referendum in which 51.6% oppose hosting the games.
  • 55.9% of voters in Norway opposed hosting the Winter Olympics.
  • A whopping 70% of voters opposed Krakow Poland hosting.

Why take the political risk when the upside isn’t particularly high?

Risk

Japan claims to have spent $15.4 billion on these Olympics. Covid ruined any chance they had at making that money back.

Tourism dollars, ticket sales, and merchandise sales were all wrecked by Covid. The loss of ticket sales alone cost Japan around $1 billion.

The hotel industry estimates that they lost between 700,000 and 1 million nights worth of reservations.

I understand that nobody could have predicted Covid. Covid is a once-in-a-lifetime emergency.

But, with so much money at stake, it’s understandable why many cities don’t want to take the risk of hosting.

Current Ratings

Compounding the Olympics problems is the fact that the ratings haven’t been as high as expected.

The current ratings are well shy of NBCUniversal’s predictions. That has forced them into issuing compensatory makegoods to advertisers.

Viewership is down 43% from the 2016 Rio Games.

That is not to say the games aren’t being viewed in large numbers, though. Sunday night’s coverage saw an average of 19.8 million viewers. That is higher than both the Kentucky Derby (14.4 million) and game 6 of the NBA Finals (12.5 million).

While the ratings are still huge, you want them to grow, not shrink. And you definitely don't want to underperform what you promised advertisers.

The Olympics not being the biggest sports show in town is a problem because it’s definitely the most expensive.

Will, the lack of interest hurt Los Angeles in 2028?

Why Los Angeles 2028 Will be Ok (My Thoughts)

Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti made a great observation about the Olympic Games.

“Cities need to fit the Olympics to their city, not their city to the Olympics. Almost every city in the world could do the Olympics. Don’t do things which are nothing to do with the Olympics and put them into the budget.”-Eric Garcetti

Most former hosts spent billions of dollars building venues specifically for the Olympics. Thankfully that trend seems to be changing.

  • The Olympics in Paris will be 95% staged in venues that already exist.
  • The Milan 2026 Winter Olympics will use 93% existing venues.
  • 100% of the 2028 Olympics venues for the Los Angeles games already exist.

In 1984 Los Angeles managed to turn a profit hosting the Olympics. The city has a great chance of doing the same in 2028.

Not only does L.A. not need to build new venues, but it also has other huge advantages.

  • LAX is already one of the busiest airports in the world. It can handle the extra visitors.
  • There are more than enough hotels in L.A. to handle extra tourists.
  • The city of Los Angeles is no stranger to hosting big events.

Overall, I think L.A. will be just fine. They are one of the few cities in the world that can handle hosting the Olympics relatively easily.

However, residents might want to stay off the already crowded streets at that time. I can’t even imagine what a nightmare Los Angeles Olympic traffic will be.

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Certified Personal Trainer | Certified ESL Teacher |I mostly write about all things Southern California, but I also cover national topics.

Los Angeles, CA
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