(ATR) Los Angeles bid leaders tell Around the Rings
Donald Trump will not ruin their Olympic mission if he becomes U.S. president.
LA mayor Eric Garcetti and IOC member Anita DeFrantz (ATR)
Trump is in a race for the White House against Hillary Clinton, with the election in November – 10 months before the IOC chooses a 2024 host city.
LA 2024 rolled out its top team at a Rio press conference on Tuesday, pitching the key points of its bid to the international media.
Both during and after the briefing, mayor Eric Garcetti fielded several inquiries suggesting a Trump win would reduce the chances of LA winning the Games over its rivals Budapest, Paris and Rome.
“This bid does not depend on any elections,” he said, insisting sports transcend politics. “An America that turns inward is not good for world peace, not good for any of us. We will continue no matter what.”
Describing Los Angeles as “one of the world’s great sports towns” with Olympic-ready infrastructure bar one venue, he told ATR
: “We don’t know who will be the French president… no matter who our politicians are, or who happens to be our president we will engage.”
After waging a controversial campaign characterized by incendiary remarks, a Trump presidency appears more likely to hinder rather than help the bid.
Anita DeFrantz refused to be drawn. She was one of three U.S. IOC members speaking for LA 2024 alongside Angela Ruggerio and Larry Probst.
She told ATR
it didn’t matter who led the U.S administration, the bid “continues to move on”.
But she insisted that Clinton might be a better champion of the bid if she was elected president. DeFrantz recalled Clinton’s appearance at the Atlanta 1996 Olympics, saying “She understands what the Olympic Movement is about”.
Asked if Trump had any idea of what the Olympic Movement was about, she replied: “I have not had a chat with him about the principles of the Olympic Movement, so I have no way of knowing.”
Michael Johnson is supporting the LA 2024 bid (ATR)
U.S. track legend Michael Johnson, who also fielded questions from media, also played the diplomatic card, declining the opportunity to criticize Trump’s controversial run for the White House.
“The president of United States doesn’t really get intimately involved in the bid for the Olympics,” he told ATR
“Regardless of who becomes president of the United States, the bid is separate from that and I don’t think the bid will be affected by who becomes president.”
He added: “I think Los Angeles can stand on its own merits with regard to its bid and what it can do in hosting the Games.”
Building Bridges with IOC Members
In their allotted time, the six bid executives each highlighted the different benefits of the bid. Multiple swimming Olympic medalist Janet Evans spoke about the athlete-centric concept, while bid chairman Casey Wasserman said it would “minimize risk” as most of the facilities were in place.
Asked about the rampant gun crime in America, Garcetti denied that the lack of gun controls posed a bigger security threat to the US bid than the terror attacks in Europe that have hit France the hardest.
“Security is a threat around the world. It is very important for us to say that is a common concern around the country.”
Garcetti hailed California’s stricter gun controls. “Los Angeles is where America needs to be in terms of our gun laws… it’s probably one of the safest places in America.”
For his part, Probst underlined the USA’s “emotional commitment” to the Olympic Movement. After Chicago missed out on the 2016 Games to Rio seven years ago, the U.S. Olympic Committee has been involved in some serious soul-searching about how to re-engage with the IOC membership.
“America loves the Olympics and Paralympic Games. That’s why we keep bidding to bring the Games back to the U.S. This is our third bid and best bid since 2005, and the 20th time America offered to host the Games in our country,” he said.
The USOC chief said “many valuable” lessons had been learned from previous bids. “As Americans we have to be humble and hardworking and do our very best to build relationships and friendships.”
Reported by Mark Bisson n Rio de Janeiro
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