2028 LA Olympics: Track going before swimming will allow Games to start 'with a bang'

EUGENE — Max Siegel, the CEO of USA Track & Field, and Casey Wasserman, the LA28 chairman, are enjoying the track and field trials this weekend while imagining an Olympics in four years that rewrites the script: Instead of kicking off the Los Angeles Games with swimming, track and field will go first and swimming will go at the end.

It's the first time since the 1968 Mexico City Games that the schedule has switched.

Flipping the marquee events of the Summer Olympics is a logistical decision: The plan is for the 2028 Opening Ceremony to take place in SoFi Stadium — where the Rams play — before converting the 70,000-seat structure into a temporary swimming facility that holds 38,000.

Track, meanwhile, will take place at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, home of USC football; it will be the third time the stadium has hosted Olympic track, a first for the Games.

“Athletics is our primetime event,” Wasserman said. “We’re starting off with a bang.”

There are still plenty of details to be worked out, including a marathon course and host for the 2028 trials. Wasserman said it’s unlikely that the Coliseum would be ready for the trials because the temporary track is “the most expensive and complicated thing we have to build.” The Coliseum hasn’t had a permanent track since a 6.7 earthquake rocked the city in 1994.

The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum will host track and field for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.
The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum will host track and field for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

Athletes have complained for years about the expense and difficulty of getting to Eugene (the city has hosted the track trials eight times, including this year), but the fanbase at TrackTown, USA is unmatched, and Siegel knows the importance of athletes performing in a packed stadium.

Siegel said USATF will open the bidding process as usual, and emphasized that one of its priorities is “to make sure we move the sport around the country" to generate more fan interest.  He’s not worried about LA being unable to host the trials, because the city will get its share of running, jumping and throwing from July 14-30.

“The world is coming to LA for the Olympics, and track is going to be No. 1,” Siegel said. “The opportunity to take this (Trials) event to other places is spectacular.”

It’s also unlikely the city would be ready to host some sort of other marquee event — USATF nationals, perhaps — at The Coliseum in 2027 because of scheduling conflicts, namely USC football.

“The good news about LA ’28 is all our venues are in place," Wasserman said. "The flip side is they’re used a lot."

Both Siegel and Wasserman know track is not must-see viewing like it used to be for most of America. But they’re determined to improve that, motivated in part by wanting to help athletes — many of whom remain unsponsored, little-known and underpaid despite being some of the best in the world at their events — thrive financially. The greatest financial benefit for American athletes will come, they said, if 2028 is successful.

And while he’s focused on nitty-gritty logistics, Wasserman has big-picture Olympic concerns, too.

“Given the state of college athletics I’m concerned about the future of, frankly, non-football college sports because in many cases, it’s where our athletes are from,” Wasserman said. “Anything LA28 can do to support the national governing bodies in this country, so that we can continue to develop and train and produce the greatest athletes in the world is something that’s going to be important to us.”

Email Lindsay Schnell at and follow her on social media @Lindsay_Schnell

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 2028 Los Angeles Olympics prioritizes track and field over swimming