(Reuters) – Magic Johnson, a five-time NBA champion and member of the original U.S. Dream Team, was named vice chair of the group trying to bring the 2024 Olympics (Summer) to Los Angeles, LA24 said in a statement on Wednesday.
Labour leader Maria Elena Durazo was also named a vice chair. Johnson and Durazo will join four-time Olympic champion swimmer Janet Evans on the bid’s board of directors.
“Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson is not only one of the greatest athletes of all time; he’s also one of our city’s most successful business leaders,” said LA 2024 Chairman Casey Wasserman in a statement.
“A 1992 Olympic gold medallist, he’s a true champion on and off the court, and his work in our community has set a new standard for Olympic legacy and post athletic career-path for sports superstars.
“That is precisely what the Olympic family is looking for right now under the visionary Olympic Agenda 2020.
“But our bid would not be possible if we did not have the support of the hard-working people of Los Angeles, California and the United States. That is why it is so important to welcome María Elena Durazo as vice chair.”
A three-time NBA most valuable player who spent his entire career with the Los Angeles Lakers, Johnson helped the United States win gold at the Barcelona Olympics.
After retiring, Johnson became a successful businessman and part owner of Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers but is equally well known in Los Angeles for his philanthropic efforts.
“The only thing greater than bringing a sports championship to Los Angeles would be bringing the Olympics back to the best sports town in America,” said Johnson, 56, who retired suddenly in 1991 after announcing he had contracted HIV. “I was here for the 1984 Games, and I saw a city that was united and honoured to welcome the world.
“As a former Olympian, I’m proud to join the LA 2024 team and give them ‘an assist’ in returning the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games to the United States.”
Los Angeles, which has twice before hosted the Summer Games in 1932 and 1984, stepped in as a late replacement as the U.S. bid after Boston withdrew its candidature due to a lack of support.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will elect a winning bid in September 2017 from a race that includes Paris, Rome, Budapest and Hamburg.
Rio de Janeiro will host the Summer Games next year with Tokyo holding the event for a second time in 2020.
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Andrew Both)