GamesBids.com presents the ninth annual Top Ten list of Olympic Bid Stories for 2016. These stories impacted the course of Olympic host city bids, or the Olympic bid process, and formed interesting plot lines and story arcs for the year. We’ll run them down from 10th to 1st as the year ends – click on the links for details.
Top Olympic Bid Stories of 2016: #6 – Trump’s Presidential Campaign Becomes Part of the Olympic Bid Conversation
U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump’s unprecedented, historical – and unbelievable run for the White House captured worldwide headlines and was the most talked about news topic on the planet in 2016. His rhetoric was so pervasive that it’s no surprise there was discussion of his impact on the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games bid process – and specifically on Los Angeles’ bid for the Games.
Once Trump had secured the Republican nomination, the conversation became louder and increasingly real.
Many people, including myself, believed that Trump’s inward-looking policies and xenophobic behavior would put off the diverse group of voting International Olympic Committee (IOC) members scattered across the globe. In contrast, opposing candidate Democrat Hillary Clinton has been seen as a friend of the Olympic movement having positively backed the New York 2012 Olympic bid, and with her husband President Bill Clinton strongly supported the 1996 Atlanta Games.
In August Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told reporters that he was concerned about Trump’s rhetoric based on what he had “heard from IOC members,” but later backpedaled and suggested that the election would have no impact on LA 2024.
On the eve of the election I wrote that a Trump victory would be devastating for the Los Angeles campaign, not really expecting that my beliefs would be tested. But Trump’s Electoral College victory amid a popular vote loss made all the speculative analyses real.
The immediate fallout hasn’t been so devastating as the Republican President-Elect and Democrat Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti spoke cordially on the phone following the election about various issues, including the LA 2024 Olympic bid. Trump is reportedly a strong supporter of the project.
On Garcetti’s suggestion, Trump called IOC President Thomas Bach to convey the same message of support – likely an effective introduction to the Olympic Chief who had throughout the year repeatedly refused to comment on the U.S. election, or the possibility of Trump becoming President and implementing his extreme policies.
If Trump becomes a two-term president and LA 2024 is successful, he could be presiding over the opening of the Olympic Games while a battle for his replacement is fought in the background, just months before the election.
Earlier in the year outgoing President Barack Obama was quoted in New York Magazine saying that the Olympic bid decisions are a “little bit cooked,” a comment that could raise the ire of Olympic voters. Obama formed this opinion after Chicago was eliminated first from among four candidates vying to host the 2016 Olympic Games that were hosted in Rio in August.
Obama said that America had the best bid, but even after he and the U.S. First Lady traveled to Copenhagen to join the final bid presentation to voters – the bid was rejected.
LA 2024 officials have said that they expect to work closely with the Trump administration during the remainder of the campaign, but have stopped short of discussing whether he would participate in the bid, or the final presentation.
The real test of the IOC’s readiness to accept a U.S. host for the Olympic Games with Trump as President won’t come until September 13 when the members vote for a winner from among Budapest and Paris in Lima, Peru.