US President Donald Trump’s controversial political moves will matter less than bid merits when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) selects the 2024 Summer Games host, Los Angeles bid leaders said Friday.
Trump’s first two weeks in office have been tumultuous, including a temporary ban on immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries that sparked anger and protests.
But LA 2024 bid committee chairman Casey Wasserman and chief executive Gene Sykes say they are confident details and planning, submitted Friday in a bid book to the IOC, are all that count.
“We want to be judged on the merits of our bid, not politics,” Wasserman said. “The IOC has always acted for the best interests of sports, not politics, and we trust they will in this process.”
Los Angeles is competing against Paris and Budapest for the 2024 Olympics, with the IOC set to decide a winner on September 13 at Lima, Peru. The Summer Olympics were last staged on US soil in 1996 at Atlanta.
Wasserman said the bid group is not worried about what the political climate might be when the vote is taken.
“We have no concerns,” he said. “We have enjoyed sharing the story of LA with the Olympic movement and its members.
“When we raised our hand it’s because we believed in the power of the movement to unite the world and that was to unite the world through sport not politics.
“We’re sure the merits of our bid are strong. I’m confident the members of the IOC will see it as that.”
But the comments came on the same day Iran officials said they would deny visas to US wrestlers for the Freestyle World Cup later this month.
Iran has won the event five years in a row, the past three in Los Angeles, and the US is set to host next year’s event in Iowa City.
Sykes said that bid officials contacted the White House last week when hearing of the new US immigration rules, with Iran one of the seven countries affected.
“Their first response is, ‘We want to help you. We will do whatever we need to do to accommodate sporting people and athletes,’” Sykes said. “And I believe we will be able to do that.”
The LA2024 bid group also began global promotion Friday for its Olympic candidacy, what Sykes called a “grand quest” to “ensure the United States remains the most welcoming nation on Earth.”
‘IOC can rest easy’
Wasserman said the LA bid wants “to set the stage for all Games that follow” but denied it was trying to deliver any lessons to the world on how all Olympics should be done.
“I don’t think we’re saying you have to do it our way,” Wasserman said. “In many cases, we’re doing it the way other people have shown us to do it.”
He cited track installation ideas taken from Scotland as an example of learning from others and thinking creatively.
“That’s really the model,” Wasserman said. “We don’t think it’s about the United States teaching the rest of the world as much as it is using the things the rest of the world provides.”
Wasserman, however, is pitching the LA bid as a stable one in uncertain global times, given much of the infrastructure for an Olympics is already in place, including venues.
“To say that these are uncertain times in the world is an understatement,” he said. “I believe the IOC can rest easy for seven years if they choose LA.”