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Volume 20 No. 42
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Regardless of Trump’s effect on bid, Los Angeles has reason to remain optimistic, experts say

U.K.-based sports marketer Patrick Nally, a regular in the halls of power in the Olympic movement since the 1970s, said the main message to Los Angeles is that they shouldn’t panic.

“Keep your head down,” he said. “You’re on a very good course. You’ve got one city to beat, and there’s all sorts of reasons you might beat them … pending stupidity.”

The Olympics need a host city that can minimize risk, ensure broad local popular support and maximize revenue, Nally said. The most influential International Olympic Committee members increasingly see Los Angeles as the answer, regardless of who is president, he said.

L.A.’s chief rival for the Games, Paris, could have its own potential political problem soon enough. Marine Le Pen is France’s far-right nationalist politician who will stand for president in May. Most European sports leaders see her as a greater threat than Donald Trump, members and other experts said.

Budapest, the other finalist for the 2024 Summer Games, is viewed as a long shot.

Trump could end up being “very positive” for the bid, said Harvey Schiller, former U.S. Olympic Committee executive director. “He’s certainly a big sports fan,” he said, recalling Trump getting along well with IOC members at a dinner during the failed New York 2012 bid, and citing his regular attendance at Yankees games.

American IOC executive board member Angela Ruggiero, a rising star in the body, appeared with Trump on “The Apprentice” in 2007. Ruggiero could not be reached for comment. “She said that she had an opportunity to see his offices, and it’s full of sports trophies, and he seems to be a very sports-mad guy, so maybe that’s a positive that overrides some of the negative things,” said Richard Peterkin, an IOC member from St. Lucia.

LA 2024, the city’s bid effort, has close ties with Hillary Clinton. Chair Casey Wasserman is a friend of Clinton’s and hosted fundraisers for her, and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti is a rising star in the Democratic Party. Bid CEO Gene Sykes is a Republican.

“It’s incumbent on the leadership of L.A. to make sure they stay close to the White House,” Schiller said. “That’s going to be really important for people like Casey Wasserman and some of the others to be part of that, and the timing’s important, because we’re not that far away from it.”

The IOC votes in September in Lima, Peru.

Assuming Trump isn’t outwardly hostile to the Olympic bid — he’s said little on the subject so far — the details of his involvement as a representative will need to be carefully managed, members said. “It would be something that people would have to consider. What would happen if he went to Lima and got a question from one of the Muslim members, and he’d have to address it?” Canadian IOC member Dick Pound said.

The Chicago 2016 bid failed after President Barack Obama made a personal appearance at the IOC Session in 2009, seen as a major political failure.

LA 2024 issued a statement Wednesday congratulating Trump but otherwise did not respond to a request for interviews.