Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali

Start watching
SoCal Update

SoCal Update

Start watching
a large damn with graffiti of a woman with a hammer on it, mountains in the background

Earth Focus Presents

Start watching
Southland Sessions

Southland Sessions

Start watching
Professor T

Professor T (Belgium)

Start watching
Artbound

Artbound

Start watching
Emma

Emma

Start watching
Guilt

Guilt

Start watching
Line of Separation Key Art.

Line of Separation

Start watching
Us

Us

Start watching
The Latino Experience

The Latino Experience

Start watching
Key Art of "Summer of Rockets" featuring Keeley Hawes and Toby Stephens.

Summer of Rockets

Start watching
Death in Paradise Series 10

Death in Paradise

Start watching
millionaire still

KCET Must See Movies

Start watching
Independent Lens

Independent Lens

Start watching
MJ250sC-show-poster2x3-Bflky7i.png

Tending Nature

Start watching
Earth Focus

Earth Focus

Start watching
City Rising

City Rising

Start watching
Lost LA

Lost LA

Start watching
Member
Your donation supports our high-quality, inspiring and commercial-free programming.
Support Icon
Learn about the many ways to support KCET.
Support Icon
Contact our Leadership, Advancement, Membership and Special Events teams.
L.A. and the Olympics
See how the Olympics helped shape the L.A. we know today in this four-part feature article series. It will chronicle how the Olympics affected L.A.'s built environment, how L.A. impacted Olympic traditions from 1932 to 1984 and how these have changed L.A.'s approach to 2028.
  1. The Coliseum during the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles shows the words "Olympic Stadium" on the foreground.
  2. A bed cushion is carried by a man walking into one of the homes in the Olympic village during the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games.
  3. A light structure similar to scaffolds were used in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.
  4. A young woman paints a a mural that says "LA28" with a sunset and palm tree silhouettes

A Look Into the Future: The Los Angeles Olympics in 2028

A young woman paints a a mural that says "LA28" with a sunset and palm tree silhouettes
Muralist Kristy Sandoval paints a mural on behalf of Olympic gold medalist in soccer Alex Morgan at Delano Park. | Los Angeles 2028 Organizing Committee
Support Provided By

"L.A. has a long love affair with the Olympic Games and the Olympic movement. The legacies from the 1932 and 1984 Games still resonate across our great city, and they are part of the reason that 88% of Angelenos passionately support our bid" states L.A.'s 2024 bid book, which rather unusually helped win them the rights to the '28 Games owing to the lack of other willing host cities. That they were awarded the '28 Games despite bidding for '24 demonstrates the IOC's eagerness to get a host booked in, and the issues the Olympic movement is once more facing following the financially disastrous 2016 Rio Summer Games and 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

The parallels with '84 are striking. In the bid book, L.A.'s Organizing Committee emphasizes how the Olympic movement needs a solid host, just as it did 37 years ago. L.A. aims to provide that with its abundance of sporting venues, public spaces and operational experience.

A worm's view of the L.A. Memorial Coliseum that shows the Olympic rings and the archway with the mural.
The L.A. Memorial Coliseum will be the only centerpiece venue to host three separate Olympic Games. | Los Angeles 2028 Organizing Committee

The city's organizers will again construct only temporary competition venues to ensure the event is sustainable financially and environmentally; however, some private venues such as SoFi Stadium in Inglewood are being built by private investors (in SoFi's case, Arsenal and L.A. Rams owner Stan Kroenke) that would not have been built were the Games not on the horizon. Given that over 60% of Inglewood residents rent rather than own their properties, there have been concerns voiced by the local community about potential displacements due to the development.

Temporary or not, the cost of the LA28 Olympics is projected to reach nearly $7 billion, supposedly making a profit "in the high hundreds of millions," according to Mayor Eric Garcetti. However, Olympic costs are often underestimated; researchers from the University of Oxford worked out that Olympics costs since 1960 have overrun their budgets by 172% on average.

Given that L.A. is currently in the midst of an affordable housing crisis, some feel the billions would be better spent somewhere other than on the Olympics. This is especially pertinent as the Games' related tourist influx, which encourages building of hotels and increased use of Airbnbs, tends to negatively impact local communities, house prices and the rental market.

The 1984 Olympics Arts Festival and the subsequent Los Angeles Festival are two events which LA28 would do well to emulate. "An explosion of cultural expression in Los Angeles has happened since," says Danielle Brazell, General Manager of the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, "I think [the '84 Arts Festival] really helped pave the way for civic and public sector support of culture in the city."

Peter Sellars' well-received Los Angeles Festival was held in 1987, partially aiming to amplify local voices that went under the radar during the more internationalist Olympics Arts Festival. "It was kind of the inversion of the Olympics Arts Festival," says Brazelle, "It built upon local culture — utilizing churches, parks, barber shops, coffee shops — and showed that L.A. had world class, extraordinary work." While not directly involved with the Games' organization, the DCA will advocate for similar local involvement at the '28 Games and their Cultural Olympiad. "Our focus is on equity," says Brazell, "Which means making sure that L.A., as a global city, is presented as more than just beaches and ocean and Hollywood Boulevard, since it's an epicenter of art and creativity — and a truly multicultural society."

Poster for the Olympic Arts Festival held just before 1984 Summer Olympic Games is a color photograph of a clown putting on his makeup and marked in black at the bottom of the poster, "Olympic Arts Festival Los Angeles June 1-August 12, 1984.
Poster for the Olympic Arts Festival held just before 1984 Summer Olympic Games. | Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee (through Carol Daniels)

The challenge lies in making sure that cultural developments don't come at the cost of citizen well-being. "When we do start to see cultural development come into communities, especially communities that have not had enough support and resources in the past, it creates tension," explains Brazell, "the Olympics will no doubt produce that, so the question becomes: what is the process for the Olympics to invest in sustainable and equitable community development, whether through culture or the built environment?" Mega-events such as the Games have a habit of being high-cost, low-nuance.

1984 Revisited

The design legacy of '84 should be significant, and it seems LA28 has tried to emulate this via its logo design, the 'A' of which changes depending on which of the 28 celebrities/ambassadors it is designed by. A range of familiar names were chosen to design logos, ranging from actor Reese Witherspoon, to graffiti artist Chaz Bojorquez and chef Jorge Joy Alvarez-Tostado, a renowned taquero.

Selecting a range of Angeleno designers to design their own 'A' is perhaps not the most subtle way of representing the fact that L.A. "defies a singular identity," as LA28 Chief Athlete Officer Janet Evans put it. While it implies a commitment to a diverse range of voices throughout the city, LA28 is yet to directly engage or work with any community organizers or representatives.

Click right and left to see the different LA28 emblems made by local voices.

LA28 emblem made for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics shows different kinds of As made by various artists, designers and athletes
1/10 LA28 emblem by Reese Witherspoon, actress, producer and entrepreneur | Los Angeles 2028 Organizing Committee
LA28 emblem made for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics shows different kinds of As made by various artists, designers and athletes
2/10 LA28 emblem by Steve Harrington, multimedia artist. | Los Angeles 2028 Organizing Committee
LA28 emblem made for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics shows different kinds of As made by various artists, designers and athletes
3/10 LA28 emblem by Lex Gillette, 4x Paralympic medalist | Los Angeles 2028 Organizing Committee
LA28 emblem made for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics shows different kinds of As made by various artists, designers and athletes
4/10 LA28 emblem by Jamal Hill, para athlete, disability advocate
LA28 emblem made for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics shows different kinds of As made by various artists, designers and athletes
5/10 LA28 emblem by Chantel Navarro, 5x junior national champion boxer | Los Angeles 2028 Organizing Committee
LA28 emblem made for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics shows different kinds of As made by various artists, designers and athletes
6/10 LA28 emblem by Aidan Kosaka, community leader | Los Angeles 2028 Organizing Committee
LA28 emblem made for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics shows different kinds of As made by various artists, designers and athletes
7/10 LA28 emblem by Bobby Hundreds, co-founder and CCO, The Hundreds | Los Angeles 2028 Organizing Committee
LA28 emblem made for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics shows different kinds of As made by various artists, designers and athletes
8/10 LA28 emblem by Chaz Bojórquez, graffiti artist | Los Angeles 2028 Organizing Committee
LA28 emblem made for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics shows different kinds of As made by various artists, designers and athletes
9/10 LA28 emblem by Jorge "El Joy" Alvarez, taquero and business owner | Los Angeles 2028 Organizing Committee
LA28 emblem made for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics shows different kinds of As made by various artists, designers and athletes
10/10 LA28 emblem by Lauren "Lolo" Spencer, disability advocate, model, actress | Los Angeles 2028 Organizing Committee

There is no reason LA28 should not hearken back to the success of 1984's designs; postmodernism is still semi-popular, and striking designs such as those prevalent in '84 are especially effective on visually dependent mediums such as Instagram, which is, after all, where much of the Games will be consumed. If LA84's designs were perfect for the small screen, then '28 should focus on the even smaller one and its aesthetics should reflect this. Its logos, which are each accompanied by a small animation, are indeed described as "built for the digital age," though tailored GIF aside it's unclear yet exactly how.

Having a range of logos — all with different constituent parts — seems to recall 1984's kit-of-parts design, but without a binding color scheme, the designs appear a tad incongruous. "It's an interesting idea in theory," says Paul Prezja, who helped orchestrate the designs for '84, "But not necessarily in practice. They could've employed designers or creatives to do them instead of celebrities." L.A. is, of course, rife with artistic talent.

Onwards, Looking Back

Civic change is hard to muster, but there are signs — the civic memory project, for example — that L.A. is becoming more conscientious in its approach to the built environment. Regardless, the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles leaves L.A. with a lot of questions to answer, especially after the numerous civic issues which have arisen in Tokyo before the Games have even finished. "The big question is what happens after the Olympics and when the visitors leave. Will we have a stronger cultural ecology in place? Will we have stronger communities?" says Brazell, "I don't know."

In '32, though the games were financially and reputationally successful and expanded L.A.'s position on the world stage immeasurably, economic struggles and racial segregation would continue for years to come. It was mainly real estate magnates who benefited in the long-run from the '32 Games' success as the prices of their portfolios benefitted from L.A.'s allure. In '84, too, there were socioeconomic issues, racial tensions and a host of other city and state-wide challenges that preceded the Olympics. The Games gave the city a self-celebration session, as well as a feeling of togetherness for a couple of weeks, but it didn't last.

LA28 looks likely to again occur at a time of division in Los Angeles and America; it remains to be seen whether an Olympics defined by temporariness can cause citywide change that lasts longer than a fortnight.

Support Provided By
Read More
Photographic portrait of Mrs. Arcadia de Baker; previously Mrs. Abel Stearns, Arcadia Bandini, ca.1885. She can be seen from the waist up turned slightly to the left in an oval cutout. Her long dark hair is parted up the middle and pulled back to her neck. She is wearing a frilly shawl over a frilly dress with a low neckline.

The Powerful Mexican Woman Who Helped Shape Early Santa Monica

Arcadia Bandini Stearns de Baker was rich, beautiful and connected. This savvy businesswoman would be an important player in early California and helped shape Santa Monica and the west side of Los Angeles.
A black and white photo depicts a row of cabins are arranged in a line along a steep slope. Each one is affixed with screened porches.

They Built This City: How Labor Exploitation Built L.A.'s Attractions

In the early 1900s, Los Angeles’ temperate climate and natural attractions drew droves of tourists seeking an escape from crowded, industrial cities. But behind the pristine curtain of Mt. Lowe’s tourism industry was a harsh reality of labor exploitation that continues to disproportionately affect Los Angeles’ Latinx population today.