(ATR) Leaders of the Los Angeles Olympics face a major political reset with the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States.
The election of Trump, whose comments on the stump on a range of issues have alarmed some IOC members, perhaps means trouble for the LA bid. He has yet to make any public declaration of support for the bid, which he will quickly discover is led by a pair of stalwarts for Hillary Clinton.
Bid chair Casey Wasserman was an important fund raiser for Clinton in Los Angeles and his family foundation has contributed millions over the past decade to the Clinton Global Initiative of former president Bill Clinton.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, the leading political advocate for the 2024 bid, is one of the country’s top elected Democrats.
No comment yet from the bid or the mayor, who now must move cautiously to attract the attention of Trump without setting off alarms.
The support of the head of state is considered a must for any Olympic bid as much as support from the city government. Losing one or the other means death for a bid as it did for Rome in September when the Mayor refused to endorse the bid.
While Los Angeles doesn’t need the help of the White House to fund construction or other critical projects, the federal government still will need to spend as much as a $1 billion or more for security for the Games. Soon after Trump takes office in January, LA 2024 will need assurances from the new president that he is willing to make that commitment. Given the sharp political differences between Trump and the LA leadership, this is not a certainty.
That’s just the domestic side of the equation for Los Angeles complicated by the Trump election. Internationally, the prospect of a controversial president as part of the Los Angeles bid may be off-putting. Numerous IOC members have told Around the Rings privately that his comments about Muslims, refugees and other issues concern them.
ATR hears there is some glee for the Trump election on the part of Paris and Budapest, the two rivals for the 2024 Olympics. Leaders of the two bids believe that a Trump presidency could saddle Los Angeles with baggage it cannot shed.
Both Budapest and Paris benefit from strong support from their respective heads of state. For Paris there is an element of uncertainty with French President Francois Hollande facing an election in May. No election in Hungary is scheduled ahead of the September IOC vote that could affect the Budapest bid.
But if Trump hops aboard the Los Angeles bandwagon, Budapest and Paris can’t afford to dismiss his possible impact. Trump shows why with his once unlikely victory over Clinton.
That brings up the potential of President Trump heading to Lima next September for the IOC Session. IOC spokesman Mark Adams says that the IOC is leaving it up to the bid cities whether they will bring heads of state to Lima. An official in Lima involved with organizing the IOC Session says plans have always anticipated that the U.S. president will attend.
Trump, as has been reported previously, is sharply critical of Barack Obama for going to Copenhagen in 2009 and failing to win the 2016 Games for Chicago. But with an outsized personality and a deep affection for public attention, Trump may jump at the chance to be part of the team from the U.S. in Lima.
Opportunistic though it might seem, Los Angeles 2024 might do well with the new president to position the 2024 Olympics as a way "to make America great again".
Written by Ed Hula.
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