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What if Trump is president in 2024? Olympics officials ask L.A. delegation

Eric Garcetti, LA mayor, speaks during a press conference on Day 4 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on August 9, 2016
(Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)
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LA 2024 leaders arrived here more than a week ago with simple goals in mind.

The private bid committee -- which is trying to bring the Olympics back to Los Angeles – wanted a behind-the-scenes look at how the Brazilians are running the current Games. They also wanted to schmooze with International Olympic Committee members.

As it turns out, they have been forced to answer persistent questions about Donald Trump.

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Those questions have come from IOC members who reside in parts of the world where Trump is unpopular and from reporters who wonder if the Republican candidate for president might be hurting L.A.’s chances.

Mayor Eric Garcetti, who led L.A.’s contingent of 25 to Brazil, addressed the issue at a news conference on Tuesday.

“This bid does not depend on any election,” he said. “This bid transcends politics.”

Though stating he would not express any personal opinions, Garcetti then appeared to comment on Trump’s perceived isolationist platform.

“For us, I think IOC members might have said certain things but, as I mentioned, an America that turns inward, like any country that turns inward, isn’t good for world peace, isn’t good for progress, isn’t good for all of us,” Garcetti said.

Before these Games, LA 2024 and the U.S. Olympic Committee had consistently steered clear of such talk. Their approach changed as the bid grew politicized in unavoidable ways.

At the opening ceremony on Friday night, IOC President Thomas Bach spoke about the plight of refugees and the wide-ranging debate about whether they should be welcomed.

“We are living in a world of selfishness where certain people claim to be superior to others,” he said.

Larry Probst, a relatively new IOC member who also serves as chairman of the USOC, hoped that any potential controversy might be outweighed by the work Americans have done to become more involved in the Olympic movement.

The U.S. has hosted international competitions and sports conventions. Anita DeFrantz, an IOC member from Los Angeles, serves on the IOC’s executive board and Southern California native Angela Ruggiero was elected as head of the athletes’ commission last week.

Perhaps most importantly, the USOC has renegotiated a deal that shares a larger portion of American television revenues with other countries.

Probst hopes that when his colleagues “think about the bid and the USOC, they think about what has transpired over the last six or seven years, not about what may transpire in November.”

Politics weren’t the only topic of discussion at Tuesday’s news conference.

In a recurring theme, LA 2024 leaders talked about staging a fiscally responsible Games by making use of such existing venues as the Coliseum and Staples Center.

Probst referred to past losing efforts by Chicago and New York, saying: “We have learned many valuable lessons from our previous bids.”

But a question about the presidential campaign was followed by one about gun control in light of terrorist attacks around the world.

“In Los Angeles, in particular, when it comes to gun control, we have very, very strong laws,” Garcetti said. “Los Angeles is where America needs to be in terms of our gun laws.”

The mayor dismissed suggestions that LA 2024’s campaign could be sunk by politics, saying: “We will continue no matter what.”

david.wharton@latimes.com

Twitter: @LATimesWharton

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