Mayor Eric Garcetti finally had what we imagine must have been a fairly awkward phone conversation with President-elect Donald Trump Wednesday, and according to NBC News, the foremost topic of discussion was Los Angeles’s bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games.
Since just over a year ago, when Boston’s bid collapsed, Los Angeles has emerged as a surprising contender for the games—and a very realistic spoiler for Paris, which is trying to host its first games since 1924. While attending this year’s games in Rio de Janiero, however, Garcetti told the Associated Press that a victory for Trump could seriously threaten the city’s chances of winning over International Olympic Committee voters.
Unfortunately for Garcetti, what seemed at the time like an unlikely calamity has become an alarming reality. That may be why Garcetti was so eager to discuss LA’s Olympic bid with Trump last week, and to get the president-elect’s assurance that he’ll support the city in its pursuit of the games.
Well, Angelenos fearing that the rather unpredictable president-elect might somehow try to interfere with plans for the games—or even refuse to support the city’s bid altogether—can rest assured. Trump is reportedly on board with the idea of bringing the Olympics back to the United States for the first time since 2002, when Salt Lake City hosted.
That being said, there’s still plenty of possibility for friction between Trump and LA’s bid leaders further down the road. Just take a look at the very first promotional video that the LA 2024 organization put out to promote the city’s bid:
The northern capital of Latin America? The eastern capital of the Pacific rim? That doesn’t sound much like the version of America that Trump promised to work toward on the campaign trail. Even the music is performed by a band from Canada; this video is pretty much the opposite of a Trump campaign ad.
Interestingly, though, Garcetti indicated to the Associated Press in August that a Trump election could give the bid “greater urgency” as a way to “underscore who we are and what we're about.”
Meanwhile, at a recent presentation in front of the IOC in Doha, Qatar, gold medalist Allyson Felix was quick to reassure Olympic officials about Trump’s victory. “[S]ome 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.”
For now, LA’s bid leaders will most likely do their best to distract IOC voters from the fact that American voters just elected a president whose campaign rhetoric directly assaulted the international, multicultural vision of America LA 2024 has relied on in its campaign for the games.
How well that strategy works could depend on a number of factors, including Trump’s willingness to cooperate and the results of France’s coming elections. The country will also likely be choosing a new leader soon, and at least one candidate has some views on immigration that align closely with those of Trump.
It’s quite possible that when the IOC chooses a host city for the 2024 games next year, the committee will have to decide between three cities (Budapest is also in the running) in countries where members of the newly formed refugee team would likely be turned away.