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  • Biden White House Raises Olympic Expectations


    (ATR) Olympic leaders say they expect smooth relations with the new administration of U.S. President Joe Biden.

    IOC President Thomas Bach sent congratulations to Biden in November as soon as the outcome of the Nov. 3 election was certain. The two first met in 2015 when then vice president Biden spoke at the general assembly of the Association of National Olympic Committees in Washington, D.C.

    U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee chair Susanne Lyons tells Around the Rings that she has high expectations for the Biden presidency. She notes his trips to the Olympics as vice president and welcoming U.S. athletes to the White House following the Games.

    “We have every expectation of good relations with the presidential office,” says Lyons in an ATRadio podcast this week.

    “He’s already familiar with the role of sport in the world in bringing peace. I think his initial message coming into the White House is unification of our own very divided country, but I think he will look further afield, perhaps repairing and trying to rebuild relationships around the world,” she says.

    Among Biden’s first actions as president, Biden has ordered the U.S. return to the membership of the World Health Organization. The move could boost efforts to control the coronavirus pandemic, an outcome considered essential for the future of sport and the Olympics.

    Another executive order from Biden ends the so-called Muslim travel ban to the U.S. The lifting of the visa restriction should make it easier for athletes from the targeted countries to come to the U.S. for training and competition, although the coronavirus countermeasures will likely remain an impediment for travel.

    Another pending appointment is the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The ONDCP was subject to a series of interim leaders under the Trump administration. The office is responsible for overseeing U.S. involvement in the World Anti-Doping Agency, including a seat on the WADA board.

    The Biden administration has plucked a member of the USOPC Board of Directors to become U.S. Surgeon General.
    Vice president Joe Biden at the 2010 Winter Games. (ATR)

    Dr. Vivek H. Murthy has been nominated to return to the post he held during the Barack Obama presidency. Murthy became a USOPC board member just this month and will resign his seat before attending a single board meeting.

    With the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles still seven years away, federal government support of those Games is still in the early planning stages. No personnel appointments have been made yet designated for the Olympics. In the Trump White House that portfolio was held by Ivanka Trump.

    With the departure of the Trump family from Washington, Bach can only hope things go better the next time he stops by the Oval Office. His last visit, in June 2017 was a fraught one that left the IOC president worried about the fate of humanity.

    The Oval Office courtesy visit came as the IOC was jostling with the question of awarding the 2024 and 2028 Olympics at the same time to Paris and Los Angeles. The Winter Olympics in Korea were just months away and nerves were on edge over bellicose threats from Trump against North Korea that could derail the Games.

    “It would be fair enough to say that despite all the detailed preparations and advice we had received ahead of this important meeting, nothing could have prepared us for this meeting,” a source familiar with planning for the visit tells Around the Rings.

    Trump railed on about why LA should be first ahead of Paris for the summer games designation. Then he ignited new fears for the IOC president with comments about the prospects for an imminent war with Korea.

    “It was clear that the IOC President kept his cool out of deep respect for the office of the President, rather than the incumbent,” says the source.

    “Pray for the world,” the source says Bach told a colleague on the phone as he drove off from the White House.

    Ivanka Trump, who was in the meeting along with husband Jared Kushner, took the IOC group into another room and seemed ‘somewhat apologetic’ about how the meeting had gone,” ATR is told.

    The White House did not issue any information about the meeting. The IOC said it would not comment as the meeting was private

    So far there is no meeting planned yet between Biden and the IOC leader, whether in person or by digital means.

    Reported by Ed Hula. For general comments or questions, click here.
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