L.A. ad­dresses Trump con­cerns in 2024 pitch

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Stephen Wilson

L.A. sought to al­lay con­cerns over Don­ald Trump’s elec­tion, Paris played up its venues and Bu­dapest set it­self apart as a mid-sized al­ter­na­tive as the 3cities made their first pub­lic pitches to host the 2024Olympics.

Los 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 Tues­day in the race to host 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 after 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 U.S. for the first time since At­lanta hosted in 1996.

Trump’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 An­ge­les-born African-Amer­i­can sprinter and six-time Olympic gold medal­ist, 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.”

Felix said Amer­ica “needs the games to help make our na­tion bet­ter, now more than ever.”

She raised the is­sue of race and slav­ery in ex­plain­ing the his­tory and di­ver­sity of the coun­try.

“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 to­ward the fu­ture.”

“I be­lieve L.A. 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.

“I see an Amer­ica that re­mains ac­tively en­gaged in the world,” he said. “I see an Amer­ica that is out­ward­look­ing, ready to play its role along­side the com­mu­nity of na­tions to ad­dress our world’s most press­ing chal­lenges.” Speak­ing af­ter­ward, Garcetti said an Olympic bid stands on a city’s own mer­its and does not de­pend on who is the pres­i­dent of the coun­try.

“To­day we just re­minded peo­ple that any na­tion is made of its peo­ple, not one per­son,” he said. “We think that is some­thing that, whether it’s Don­ald Trump or Hil­lary Clin­ton, tran­scends all of us as Amer­i­cans. I don’t think that the Hun­gar­i­ans or the French or the Amer­i­cans are mak­ing their bid plans based on what the na­tional leader says.”

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 U.S. bid I have ever seen,” U.S. 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 per­cent 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 driver­less 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.”

The Span­ish-born Hi­dalgo cited her own back­ground as an ex­am­ple of what Paris of­fers.

“To be an im­mi­grant, to be a woman, to have dual na­tion­al­ity and to be able to be mayor of Paris, this city has brought me op­por­tu­nity and free­dom,” she said. “Paris has an in­cred­i­ble force.”

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