LA hope­fuls ad­dress Trump fac­tor dur­ing Olympic bid

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS -

DOHA, Qatar (AP): OS AN­GE­LES sought to al­lay con­cerns over Don­ald Trump’s elec­tion, Paris played up its glam­orous venues, and Bu­dapest set it­self apart as a mid-sized al­ter­na­tive as the three cities made their first pub­lic pitches yes­ter­day in the bid race for the 2024 Olympics.

With 10 months be­fore the vote, the three can­di­dates had a chance to de­liver their mes­sage in 20-minute pre­sen­ta­tions to the gen­eral assem­bly of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tees, a gath­er­ing of more than 1,000 del­e­gates from around the world.

The meet­ing oc­curred ex­actly a week af­ter Trump’s vic­tory over Hil­lary Clin­ton in the Amer­i­can pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, a re­sult that could have an im­pact on Los An­ge­les’ hopes of bringing the Sum­mer Olympics back to the US for the first time since At­lanta hosted in 1996.

LTrump’s com­ments dur­ing the di­vi­sive cam­paign about Mus­lims and Mex­i­cans and some of his for­eign pol­icy views may not help the Cal­i­for­nia city’s chances with some of the IOC’s 98 mem­bers, who rep­re­sent a range of na­tion­al­i­ties, cul­tures and re­li­gions.

It was Amer­i­can sprinter Allyson Felix, a Los An­ge­les­born African-Amer­i­can sprinter and six-time Olympic gold medal­list, who ad­dressed those con­cerns dur­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion. With­out men­tion­ing Trump by name, her mes­sage was clear.

“We just fin­ished our pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, and some of you may ques­tion Amer­ica’s com­mit­ment to its found­ing prin­ci­ples,” Felix said. “I have one mes­sage for you: Please don’t doubt us. Amer­ica’s di­ver­sity is our great­est strength.”

PER­FECT CHOICE

“We’re also a na­tion with in­di­vid­u­als like me, descen­dants of peo­ple who came to Amer­ica, not of their own free will but against it,” Felix said. “But we’re not a na­tion that clings to our past, no mat­ter how glo­ri­ous – or how painful. Amer­i­cans rush to­wards the fu­ture. “I be­lieve LA is a per­fect choice for the 2024 Games, be­cause the face of our city re­flects the face of the Olympic Move­ment it­self,” she said. IOC vice-pres­i­dent John Coates, of Aus­tralia, was among the del­e­gates in the au­di­ence and said Felix’s words hit the mark. “I did think Allyson ad­dressed the Trump is­sue very well,” he told The As­so­ci­ated Press. “I think the ques­tion was hang­ing. I thought it was very, very well crafted.” Los An­ge­les Mayor Eric Garcetti, a Demo­crat who was a prom­i­nent Clin­ton sup­porter, also took up the theme of di­ver­sity and open­ness, say­ing his city can de­liver “trans­for­ma­tive” games.

Speak­ing af­ter­wards, Garcetti said an Olympic bid stands on a city’s own mer­its and does not de­pend on who is the pres­i­dent of the coun­try.

Los An­ge­les hosted the games in 1932 and 1984. New York and Chicago failed in bids for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, re­spec­tively.

“This is our third at­tempt to host the Olympic Games in the past 10 years and for many rea­sons ... I must say this is the most re­mark­able US bid I have ever seen,” US Olympic Com­mit­tee Pres­i­dent Larry Probst said. “We have learned many lessons from our pre­vi­ous bids, and fail­ure can be a great teacher.”

Paris, which hosted the games in 1900 and 1924, has been con­sid­ered in a tight race with Los An­ge­les. The French team stressed the bid’s com­pact na­ture, with 85 per cent of ath­letes housed within 30 min­utes of their venues.

“In Paris in 2024, we will swim in the River Seine,” Mayor Anne Hi­dalgo told the del­e­gates. “We will travel in driver-less ve­hi­cles. We will cel­e­brate the games on the Champs El­y­sees, with the Eif­fel Tower and all along the Seine from the Grand Palais to Saint De­nis.”

Bu­dapest, which has never hosted the Olympics and is mak­ing its sev­enth bid, has been seen as the out­sider in the race. The Hun­gar­i­ans said they only need to build three new venues and will har­ness the city cen­tre for the games.

FELIX

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