Reporting from Barra Olympic Park, Rio de Janeiro – Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was quick to rebuke any suggestions that he was concerned a U.S. Presidential election win by Republican Donald Trump would harm his city’s bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games.
“This bid does not depend on any election,” Garcetti said in Rio de Janiero’s Barra Olympic Park Tuesday in response to questions about comments he made last week.
The Mayor, it was reported last week, said that with Donald Trump as President L.A.’s bid could be harmed.
“I was asked the question and I talked about what I heard from IOC members – I relayed what they said,” Garcetti clarified.
“We will continue no matter what [the outcome of the election].
“Bids should be outside of politics, so I feel very strongly this transcends it. And I think that no matter who the politicians are, sometimes the Olympic spirit catches them. Whoever happens to be our President then, I think we will engage them.”
Trump was a supporter of New York’s failed bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games. As well as hosting an event at Trump Tower when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Evaluation Commission visited the city, he also incorporated a promotional event for the bid as one of the projects on his highly-rated “The Apprentice” television show.
Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton supported the same New York 2012 bid in a more direct way. As Senator, she was part of the bid delegation that traveled to Singapore to lobby the IOC ahead of the vote. New York was defeated by London and finished fourth in balloting.
“If I take off my Olympic hat, I’m a Hillary Clinton supporter, but this bid doesn’t depend on who the President is,” the Democrat Mayor added.
And as a jab at Trump the Mayor said “The importance of the Olympics being in the United States can help us be a country that opens the world, that does engage with the world, that doesn’t build walls but builds bridges.”
After New York’s 2012 campaign, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) also failed with a Chicago 2016 bid. American IOC member Larry Probst said that this bid has learned form past mistakes.
“It’s really important that we expose our bid leadership to the IOC membership in an appropriate fashion so, that’s the reason Mayor Garcetti is going to be here [in Rio] for ten-or-so days and Casey (Wasserman) is going to be here the entire time,” Probst said.
During the previous bids, friction existed between the USOC and other National Olympic Comittees and International Federations due to what was seen as a lopsided revenue-sharing agreement in favour of the U.S. The resulting animosity was likely the root cause of the defeats.
The agreement was renegotiated in 2012, something seen as a relationship builder by the USOC and a path to a future Games.
“So getting all the IOC membership to have a chance to better know the bid leadership – that’s really important. I think as Americans we need to be humble and hard working, and I think we also need to do our very best to build relationships and genuine friendships with the IOC members.”
But, as Garcetti suggested, if IOC members do have concern with a President Trump – it might give the IOC another reason to turn down a U.S. bid.
Los Angeles’ bid is being touted as safe, ready and a popular project, something that stands out in contrast to the ongoing Rio Games.
The most important infrastructure items that typically blow up the budgets of organizing committees are already taken care of including the Athletes Village to be located on university campuses, the Olympic Stadium and major transport upgrades.
Garcetti said “What has been known as the car capital of America, we’re suddenly the public transportation capital – (USD) $55 billion is completely renovating our international airport, connection rail, five new rail lines, and this November we have on the ballot a another proposition to do another $120 billion for the next fifty years. So that’s going to happen whether the Olympics come or not.”
“L.A. has been preparing for the 2024 Games since the Olympic flame was extinguished at the Closing Ceremony of the 1984 L.A. Games. Our Olympic infrastructure is already in the ground, not on the drawing boards. We are virtually risk-free because we only have to build one venue to host the Games.”
A recent poll showed 88 per cent across the city support the Games bid, making it one of the most popular Western Olympic bids ever.
Los Angeles is competing with Budapest, Paris and Rome to host the Games in 2024. The IOC will elect its winner September 2017 in Lima Peru.