American sprinter Allyson Felix told Olympic officials on Tuesday they should not be worried by Donald Trump’s election as the next U.S. president when they consider Los Angeles’ bid for the 2024 Summer Games.
Felix was the key speaker for Los Angeles as the bid team made its first public presentation to a key meeting of national Olympic committee officials from around the world. Paris and Budapest, Hungary, are the two other candidates.
The presentations came a week after Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in the U.S. presidential election. Trump’s comments during the divisive campaign about Muslims and Mexicans and his foreign policy plans could antagonize some of the IOC’s 98 members, who represent a wide range of countries and cultural and religious backgrounds.
Felix, a Los Angeles-born African-American who has won six Olympic gold medals and three silvers, was selected by the California city’s bid team to publicly address those concerns in remarks to the general Assembly of National Olympic Committees.
“We just finished our presidential election, and some of you may question America’s commitment to its founding principles,” Felix said. “I have one message for you: Please don’t doubt us. America’s diversity is our greatest strength.”
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Felix said America “needs the games to help make our nation better, now more than ever.”
She raised the issue of race and slavery in explaining the history and diversity of the country.
“We’re also a nation with individuals like me, descendants of people who came to America, not of their own free will but against it,” Felix said. “But we’re not a nation that clings to our past, no matter how glorious or how painful. Americans rush toward the future.
“I believe L.A. is a perfect choice for the 2024 Games, because the face of our city reflects the face of the Olympic Movement itself,” she said.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, a Democrat who was a prominent Clinton supporter, also took up the theme in his remarks to the delegates, saying his city can deliver “transformative” games.
“I see an America that remains actively engaged in the world,” he said. “I see an America that is outward-looking, ready to play its role alongside the community of nations to address our world’s most pressing challenges.
Los Angeles, which hosted the games in 1932 and 1984, is seeking to bring the Summer Olympics to the U.S. for the first time since Atlanta held them in 1996. New York and Chicago failed in bids for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, respectively.
“This is our third attempt to host the Olympic Games in the past 10 years and for many reasons … I must say this is the most remarkable U.S. bid I have ever seen,” U.S. Olympic Committee President Larry Probst said. “We have learned many lessons from our previous bids, and failure can be a great teacher.”
Budapest and Paris were also making presentations to the assembly on Tuesday.
The Doha audience included officials from 205 national Olympic committees, dozens of international sports federations and, most importantly, dozens of members of the International Olympic Committee, which will vote on the host city next September in Lima, Peru.
Under tighter IOC rules, these are the first of only three presentations during the two-year bid race. The second will be at a private technical briefing for IOC members in Switzerland in July, and the third will be the final presentations on the day of the vote in Lima.