Los Angeles Olympic bid wary of Obama repeat
London (AFP) – Donald Trump has helped the Los Angeles bid for the 2024 Olympic Games but they are cautious about asking the US President to attend the decisive vote in Lima in September, bid chairman Casey Wasserman said Thursday.
Wasserman told a small group of journalists he had heard the “very bad” stories from the 2009 vote in Copenhagen when some International Olympic Committee (IOC) members were said to be furious to be kept waiting outside the venue whilst then President Barack Obama’s security detail swept the building having flown in to give his support to Chicago.
It is said to have cost Chicago votes.
Obama — whose wife Michelle turned up to court IOC members in the days before the vote — spoke at the final presentation but to little avail as Chicago were humiliatingly eliminated in the first round of voting with just 18 votes.
“We heard very bad stories about that (Obama),” said Wasserman.
“We are very wary of those stories as our job is to earn trust and make friends and we don’t want a movement of a president or head of state to get in the way of that.”
Wasserman, who is the biggest contributor to the privately-financed bid that has cost $60million, admitted Trump had been extremely obliging in helping the campaign who face one rival in Paris.
The vote is due to take place in Lima on September 13th.
“Trump as leader of our federal government has done everything we asked him to do,” said Wasserman.
“He has written letters, he has made phone calls including a 25 minute call with Thomas Bach (the IOC President) which I helped co-ordinate and went very well.
“The federal government has been supportive of the bid before and since he was elected.”
– ‘Incredible magical experience’ –
Wasserman, who equated the bid campaign like that of running for high school president with a similarly select electorate of around 100 and based on establishing personal relationships, is adamant if they lose out for the 2024 Games they will not bid for the 2028 edition.
“You’d have to ask the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) about another American bid but we LA won’t bid again,” said Wasserman.
“We have to pay for the bid privately and raising $60million from private individuals is a tough road and it won’t happen twice.
“If there is one it won’t be with this mayor (Eric Garcetti) or this chairman.”
There could yet be a way out with the IOC looking into the viability of awarding both the 2024 and 2028 Games to the two bidders as the bid process has become somewhat toxic with Budapest and Rome withdrawing from the contest through popular disenchantment.
Wasserman, who says there is no problem with popular support in Los Angeles with even independent polling saying it is as high as 88%, said they would let the IOC get on with their consultations on the matter as they await the visit of the IOC Evaluation Commission next week.
“Both cities had very very brief meetings about this in Aarhus (at the SportAccord Convention) and we have gone back to being focussed on the 2024 Games,” said Wasserman.
Wasserman, grandson of the late Lew Wasserman a legendary Hollywood agent and studio mogul, said a 2024 Games in Los Angeles would mark another step in the city’s progress like the two prior occasions the ‘City of Angels’ had hosted them in 1932 and 1984.
“1984 is recent enough history,” he said.
“I was 10 years old, the mayor was 13 and either you were there or a friend was there or a work colleague or a grand parent and it was an incredible magical experience.
“In Los Angeles its very much part of our history.
“Our mayor describes it really well. In 1932 it was the middle of the depression and really put LA on the map as an American city.
“1984 put LA on the map as a global city and 2024 will establish it as one of the two or three great cities of the world.”