Los An­ge­les bid to ad­dress Trump elec­tion at Olympic meet­ing

Malta Independent - - SPORT / CLASSIFIEDS -

Don­ald Trump’s vic­tory in the US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion looms over the race for the 2024 Sum­mer Games as the three bid cities pre­pare to make their first pre­sen­ta­tions to a key gath­er­ing of global Olympic of­fi­cials.

With 10 months be­fore the vote, bid lead­ers from Los An­ge­les, Paris and Bu­dapest, Hun­gary, have trav­elled to Doha to pitch their case to the gen­eral assem­bly of the As­so­ci­a­tion of National Olympic Com­mit­tees - a meet­ing at­tended by more than 1,000 del­e­gates from around the world.

The Los An­ge­les bid team may have the most at stake in to­day’s 20-minute pre­sen­ta­tions, which will oc­cur ex­actly a week after Trump’s elec­tion vic­tory over Hil­lary Clin­ton. Trump’s com­ments dur­ing the cam­paign about Mus­lims and Mex­i­cans and his for­eign pol­icy plans could hurt the US city’s stand­ing with some of the IOC’s 98 mem­bers, who rep­re­sent a wide range of coun­tries and cul­tural and re­li­gious back­grounds.

Los An­ge­les bid leader Casey Wasser­man, who was a prom­i­nent Clin­ton sup­porter, said his group has al­ready been in con­tact with mem­bers of Trump’s tran­si­tion team.

“My per­sonal sup­port of Clin­ton isn’t an in­dict­ment of pres­i­dent-elect Trump’s abil­ity to sup­port our ef­fort,” Wasser­man told The As­so­ci­ated Press. “We’re fully con­fi­dent that he will be an en­thu­si­as­tic sup­porter of the Olympics and our bid.”

“Hav­ing said that, I think the Olympics are at its best when they rise above pol­i­tics,” he added. “It has the abil­ity to unite peo­ple. Our bid isn’t a po­lit­i­cal bid. It’s a pri­vate bid with po­lit­i­cal sup­port. We are pri­vately funded and pri­vately op­er­ated. We are one step re­moved from the pol­i­tics and the ups and downs of pol­i­tics.”

While de­tails have been kept se­cret, the Los An­ge­les pre­sen­ta­tion - which in­cludes Mayor Eric Garcetti, a Demo­crat - is likely to deal head-on with the US elec­tion re­sult and seek to re­as­sure Olympic of­fi­cials that the bid rep­re­sents open­ness, di­ver­sity and in­clu­sive­ness.

“We’re not go­ing to pre­tend like there wasn’t an elec­tion but we’re not go­ing to be de­fen­sive about it,” Wasser­man said. “I think there are some things we’re go­ing to say that will sur­prise some peo­ple.”

Per­haps as a con­trast to Trump’s image, the bid team se­lected sprint star Allyson Felix, a Los An­ge­les-born African-Amer­i­can ath­lete who has won six Olympic gold medals and three sil­vers - as one of its key speak­ers for the pre­sen­ta­tion. Felix won two re­lay gold medals and a sil­ver medal in the 400 me­tres in Rio de Janeiro in Au­gust.

“She’s born, bred, raised and de­vel­oped in Los An­ge­les. She’s a home­town girl,” Wasser­man said. “I can’t think of any­body bet­ter to tell our story.”

The Doha au­di­ence will in­clude of­fi­cials from 205 national Olympic com­mit­tees, dozens of in­ter­na­tional sports fed­er­a­tions and, most im­por­tantly, dozens of mem­bers of the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee, which will vote on the host city next Septem­ber in Lima, Peru.

Un­der tighter IOC rules, these are the first of only three pre­sen­ta­tions dur­ing the two-year bid race. The sec­ond will be at a pri­vate tech­ni­cal brief­ing for IOC mem­bers in Switzer­land in July, and the third will be the fi­nal pre­sen­ta­tions on the day of the vote in Lima.

Whether Trump will be part of the Los An­ge­les bid team in Lima re­mains to be seen. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama went to Copen­hagen in 2009 to speak on be­half of Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympics, but his ap­pear­ance didn’t help as the city went out in the first round of an elec­tion won by Rio de Janeiro.

Paris and Los An­ge­les, which have each held the Olympics twice, have been viewed as close front-run­ners in the 2024 race. Paris last held the games in 1924, with Los An­ge­les host­ing in 1984.

Paris bid lead­ers said they plan to use to­day’s pre­sen­ta­tion which in­cludes Mayor Anne Hi­dalgo and two-time Olympic judo cham­pion Teddy Riner - to an­nounce plans for col­lab­o­ra­tion with national Olympic com­mit­tees.

Like Los An­ge­les, the Paris bid could be in­flu­enced by a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Far-right National Front leader Ma­rine Le Pen is among the con­tenders in next spring’s French pres­i­den­tial race.

Bu­dapest, mean­while, is ex­pected to por­tray it­self as the right-sized, af­ford­able al­ter­na­tive from cen­tral Europe.

“Hold­ing the Olympic Games in Bu­dapest would help to pave the way for a greater range of mid­sized cities to host the games, in ad­di­tion to the larger capitals and mega cities that have hosted the games in re­cent times,” bid chair­man Balazs Fur­jes said.

Casey Wasser­man, chair­man and CEO of Wasser­man Me­dia Group Photo: AP

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