The cauldron was already blazing at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum hours ahead of the International Olympic Committee's announcement Wednesday in Peru that Los Angeles will host the 2028 Summer Olympics and Paralympics.
The announcement, a formality that capped what has been an unprecedented host city selection process, followed months of California representatives, including former Olympians, casting their support behind a host bid. For Los Angeles, it will be the third time hosting the Olympics after the 1932 and 1984 Games. Paris, which was awarded the 2024 Games, also will be hosting for the third time.
The two cities originally bid to host the Olympics in 2024, but LA will be given four more years to prepare for the world's most inclusive athletic event under an agreement worked out with the IOC. With little doubt surrounding the announcement, the cauldron at LA Memorial Coliseum was lit early Wednesday morning.
"This is a momentous day for the people of Los Angeles and the United States. For the first time in a generation, we are bringing the Games back to the City of Angels," said LA Mayor Eric Garcetti. "LA loves the Olympics because the Games have lifted up our city twice before. But to us the Games have always represented an even brighter future and the chance to harness the power of sport and the Olympic Movement again to inspire the next generation - for the next 11 years and beyond."
Paris also has been able to plan its celebrations in advance. After the International Olympic Committee confirms the award, Paris officials will unveil a display of the Olympic rings at the Trocadero plaza that overlooks the Eiffel Tower.
Rainy weather, however, has forced the northern Paris suburb of Saint-Denis to move its celebrations indoors. Saint-Denis will host the Olympic Village and other venues in 2024. The town is setting up television screens in a hall, instead, so Saint-Denis residents can watch the IOC meeting in Lima, Peru.
Host cities are typically named seven years in advance, and LA was able to garner numerous financial concessions out of the IOC by agreeing to wait the extra four years. Wednesday's announcement is a formality -- IOC President Thomas Bach is already scheduled to light the Olympic cauldron at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Sunday.
Paris last hosted the games in 1924.
Under the terms of the 2028 host city contract, the IOC would grant $180 million to Los Angeles for an organizing committee and to fund youth sports in the 11 years leading up to the event. The IOC also agreed to waive $50 million in fees and contribute up to $2 billion of its broadcast and sponsorship revenues to the Games, more than the $1.7 billion pledged to Paris for 2024.
"This 11-year agreement with the IOC is the ultimate validation of LA 2028's New Games for a New Era, and Los Angeles' vision for the future," said LA 2028's president, Casey Wasserman. "As a team and as a city, we could not be more excited to be entering into this long-term partnership with the Olympic and Paralympic movements, and with one of the great cities of the world, Paris. This will be an extraordinary collaboration that secures the future of the Movement for generations. Now LA 2028 has a golden opportunity, with four more years to prepare and a $2 billion contribution from the IOC, to redefine how hosting the Games can benefit host communities."
The IOC also agreed to funnel any of its profits from the Games back to the city.
The city's quest to host its third Games has been filled with twists. LA initially competed along with Boston, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., to be the United States' official bid city for the 2024 Games before losing out to Boston in 2015.
But later in the year, Boston dropped out due to growing local opposition and LA jumped in. There have also been protests over LA's bid from members of NOlympics, a group that claims on its website "Olympics destroy communities and kill cities."
The city then entered the contest for 2024 along with Paris, Hamburg, Rome and Budapest, but one by one cities dropped out, leaving only Paris and LA.
Over the summer, the IOC announced its desire to award both the 2024 and 2028 Games at the same time, if LA and Paris agreed. The decision was influenced by the soaring cost of hosting the Olympics and the fact that fewer cities have seemed willing to assume the financial risk.
Tokyo's 2020 plan has already doubled to $12.6 billion, Rio de Janeiro is still struggling to pay off the debt from its $13 billion hosting duties in 2016, and the 2014 Games in Sochi ballooned from a budget of $12 billion to around $50 billion.
With both Los Angeles and Paris submitting bids widely seen as fiscally responsible, the IOC decided to lock them both in to hosting duties. After initial reports indicated that Paris was the favorite to host in 2024, LA leaders indicated they were willing to host in 2028.
LA 2028, the renamed committee leading the city's bid, had proposed a balanced budget of $5.3 billion for 2024 by utilizing existing venues and not building any new permanent structures just for the Games. Although an independent analysis of a budget for 2028 will not likely be completed for months, it is not expected to vary drastically in cost or approach and the LA City Council approved the switch to 2028 in August despite not having a complete picture of the financial aspects of the decision.
Another unknown at the time of the vote was if the California Legislature would approve $250 million to help cover any potential cost overruns. State lawmakers had made the pledge for 2024, but after the switch to 2028 a new bill needed to be drafted. AB 132, which promises $270 million, is currently making its way through the Legislature.
Under the 2024 plan, the city would have covered the first $250 million in cost overruns, the state the next $250 million and the city anything after that. The $5.3 billion balanced budget for 2024 included no money to be spent from the city's general fund as organizers believe they could cover all costs from corporate sponsorships, ticket sales, broadcast rights and the IOC's contribution.
The Coliseum and the new NFL stadium in Inglewood are set to share duties for the opening and closing ceremonies, part of a "something old and something new" approach, as the Coliseum was the site of the ceremonies both in 1932 and 1984. Other venues in the city and nearby like the Staples Center and the Rose Bowl are also planed as sites for events, and the dorms at UCLA are set to be the site of the Olympic Village.