Widgets Magazine
  • OKC moves closer to landing 2028 Olympic events

    According to a report earlier this week, Oklahoma City is very close to being formally named as an official site for the 2028 Summer Olympics.

    As we reported in June, the opportunity became available because Los Angeles, the official host city for the 2028 Summer Games, does not have an existing facility for canoe slalom and was preparing to build a temporary whitewater complex at a cost of over $100 million that would have been torn down immediately after the events.

    Due to huge losses incurred by Olympic host cities in the recent past, the International Olympic Committee has passed new rules to allow much more flexibility in event locations. As an example, surfing at the 2024 Paris Games will be held in Tahiti.

    OKC threw its hat in the ring as it is already the host for the International Canoe Federation (ICF) World Canoe Slalom Championships in 2026. It has also hosted the ICF Canoe Sprint Super Cup in 2021 and 2022.

    The neighboring OKC National High Performance Center is an official U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Site and as such provides coaching, training facilities, and financial support for elite American rowing, kayak, and canoe athletes.

    Another contributing factor is the close relationship between Mayor David Holt and former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. Garcetti led the team that bid for the 2028 Games and recently visited Oklahoma City including an event on the Oklahoma River.

    Mayor Holt (standing) hosts LA Mayor Eric Garcetti (seated at head of table) on the Oklahoma River in 2019

    As all signs seemed to be pointing to the improbable outcome of Oklahoma City hosting official Olympic events, a report on Monday by Inside the Games -- a European-based authority on Olympic sports -- indicates OKC "is expected to be named the host" and is in "pole position" for landing the canoe slalom events. The article quotes ICF President Thomas Konietzko although official announcements can only come from the IOC and are expected before the end of this year.

    Six Olympic medals will be awarded in slalom events which are split equally between men and women with approximately 100 athletes competing over a 7- to 10-day period. Europeans have traditionally dominated the sport but in recent years other countries have become more competitive. There is also the possibility Oklahoma City could host river-based Olympic sports such as rowing.

    The Olympic spotlight would bring unprecedented international exposure to Oklahoma City and the state and bring a significant, direct economic impact.

    In addition to the delegation of athletes, coaches, and officials, there would also be a large international media presence along with fans from all over the world.

    For the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, stands were erected to accommodate 7,500 fans at their whitewater facility. In 2024, the Paris venue will accommodate 12,000.

    The 2028 Summer Games are scheduled for July 14-30.

    What is Canoe Slalom?
    Canoe slalom features competitors navigating a whitewater course - up to 300 meters in length - by passing through a maximum 25 gates in as quick a time as possible.

    There are boats of two types: kayaks with the athletes seated and employing a double-bladed paddle; and canoes, where the athlete is strapped into the boat in a kneeling position using a single-blade paddle.

    New for Paris 2024 is extreme kayak where four athletes race against each other on a shortened course, rather than racing a clock.

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