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Metropolis / Chat Room

Carrying the Torch for L.A.

May 06, 2001|JANET WISCOMBE

So sure is John C. Argue that Los Angeles is the greatest sports metropolis on earth that the mere chance of its hosting the Summer Olympic Games a third time in 2012 sends him into high gear. Argue, an attorney, chairman of the USC board of trustees and spearhead of the 2012 bid, chaired the Southern California Committee for the 1984 Olympic Games. That cash cow turned a $225-million profit and was hailed by sportswriters as the most lucrative sporting event in history. The long road to selecting the 2012 site begins this summer, when the United States Olympic Committee visits the seven other American contenders: New York, San Francisco, Washington/Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, Tampa and Cincinnati.

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Why L.A.?

L.A. has a zillion athletes. We send more athletes to the Olympics than anyone else. A whole bunch of people in L.A. are wandering around with Olympic medals. Three International Olympic Committee members are from L.A., and there are only 100 in the world. We have great volunteers. We have the media center. We have the tradition. And--and--we are ready.

We hosted the 1932 and 1984 Summer Games. Why not give another city a chance?

We have a track record. Our competitors have promised the moon, but they can't deliver. The IOC can sleep at night in L.A. because very little needs to be done. We have great weather and world-class venues--Staples Center, the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, the Coliseum, the Rose Bowl, practice facilities, tracks, thousands of pools, media centers--we have great hotels, great universities. We are the best place in the world for the Olympics.

How was your Olympic torch lighted?

My father competed in the pentathlon--it was track and field in those days--in the Olympics in Paris in 1924. My mother met him there. It was a real "Chariots of Fire" time. My dad was the "Iron Man" of Occidental College. He was a gifted athlete. The Olympic diploma was in our house when I was growing up. We ran into people every day who knew him. My dad and I both were very involved in sports and served on a lot of boards in L.A.

Why are the Olympics a sweet deal for L.A.?

The Olympics create jobs, which is good for the economy. Billions will be spent here. After 1984, $93 million went to the Amateur Athletic Foundation and more than $100 million to disadvantaged kids. But money isn't the biggest thing about it. The Olympics in 1984 made us feel good about ourselves. We needed it. It brought us together as a community. It made us proud to be Americans. Heck, it made me proud to be a Southern Californian. But the biggest reason is because it's fun. People often say seeing the Olympics is one of the best times in their lives.

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