Unique in the Olympic World is a civic organization, grounded in one of the world’s great cities, which has offered support for the Olympic Movement in good and in troubled times, since 1939. This is the continuing legacy of the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games (“SCCOG”).
SCCOG was formed in 1939 by civic and Olympic leaders William May Garland and Paul Helms, at the request of the United States Olympic Committee (“USOC”). In view of the success of the 1932 Games in Los Angeles, SCCOG was established to offer Los Angeles as an alternative to Tokyo for the celebration of the 1940 Games, as Japan was already at war in China. Although those Games ultimately were cancelled, SCCOG has continued to provide its support – and that of Los Angeles – to the Olympic Movement. Over the years, among other things, SCCOG sponsored the Coliseum Relays and regularly presented the William May Garland Award to Los Angeles volunteer leaders. The International Olympic Committee (“IOC”) recognized SCCOG with its Olympic Cup in 1965 and SCCOG membership rolls have included four Los Angeles-resident IOC members and six recipients of the Olympic Order: John C. Argue (1994), Tom Bradley (1984), Anita L. DeFrantz (1980), Peter V. Ueberroth (1984), Harry L. Usher (1984) and Paul Ziffren (1984).
In addition to its other activities, SCCOG institutionalized bidding for the Olympic Games as a regular feature of Los Angeles life. SCCOG presented bids for the Games – always on behalf of and in conjunction with the City of Los Angeles – directly to the IOC for the 1948, 1952 and 1956 Games and to the USOC to be its candidate city for the 1960, 1964, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1980 and 1984 Games. Los Angeles was the U.S. candidate city for the 1976, 1980 and 1984 Games. Under the leadership of SCCOG Chairman, John C. Argue, Los Angeles was the successful bidder for the Games of the XXIII Olympiad in 1984.
Those Games, chaired by Paul Ziffren and led by President Peter V. Ueberroth, made Olympic history with private financing, a substantial surplus at the end of the Games and the use of more than 33,000 volunteers to support and operate the Games. It left legacies that include the LA84 Foundation
, a charitable foundation that continues to spend millions of dollars annually on amateur sports in Southern California.
From 1984 to 2001, SCCOG was less active, awaiting more opportune times to bid for the Games again. In 2001, with the unanimous support of Los Angeles’ City Council and Mayor, SCCOG submitted a bid for the 2012 Games. That bid was based on the 1984 concepts of a privately-funded Games which rely on existing infrastructure and yield fiscal benefits both to the Olympic Movement and to the Southern California community. Those concepts are the operating philosophies of SCCOG. Nevertheless, New York City became the USOC’s 2012 selection, and SCCOG actively supported the New York bid for those games at the international level. In July 2005 the IOC selected London as the 2012 host city.
On a similar basis, SCCOG also submitted Los Angeles’ bid to the USOC for the 2016 Games, ultimately coming in second to Chicago as the USOC’s chosen candidate city. In October 2009 the IOC selected Rio de Janeiro as the 2016 host city. The USOC then elected not to submit a United States bid for the 2020 Games, which were awarded to Tokyo. The USOC began the domestic bid process for the 2024 Games in February 2013 by sending letters of inquiry to the mayors of the country’s largest cities. As authorized by the Mayor and City Council, SCCOG developed a bid for 2024 with a new approach to the athletes’ village and other updates and enhancements, while preserving the use of existing facilities and fiscal benefits. It worked with the USOC to refine this approach. In Spring 2014 Los Angeles was selected by the USOC to be among the four finalist cities, along with Boston, San Francisco, and Washington, DC; and SCCOG passed to the Mayor’s office the finalist phase of the campaign.
Under current SCCOG Gene Salomon, the leadership of SCCOG has reorganized, bringing in a new and diverse group of Southern California civic and sports leaders to supplement those who have been involved for many years. SCCOG has renewed its efforts to bring sports championships of all kinds to Southern California and to support the Olympic Movement in all ways.