Los Angeles' Olympic bid emphasizes diversity as America's strength

Tuesday, November 15, 2016
LA's Olympic bid emphasizes diversity as America's strength
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The Los Angeles delegation lobbied for the 2024 Games to the International Olympic Committee, emphasizing America's commitment to diversity to ease concerns about our president-elect.

DOHA, Qatar (KABC) -- The Los Angeles delegation lobbied for the 2024 Summer Games to the International Olympic Committee on Tuesday, emphasizing America's commitment to diversity to ease concerns about our president-elect.

Sprinter Allyson Felix told Olympic officials they should not be worried about Donald Trump's election as the next U.S. president when they consider L.A.'s bid for the 2024 Games.

Felix was the key speaker for L.A. as the bid team made its first public presentation to a meeting of national Olympic committee officials from around the world in Qatar.

Felix, a Los Angeles-born African-American who has won six Olympic gold medals and three silvers, was selected by the L.A.'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."

Some worry that the president-elect's campaign comments about Mexico and Muslims could hurt L.A.'s standing with the International Olympic Committee, which is represented by people from many cultural and religious backgrounds.

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," she said. "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."

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is also leading the efforts to bring the Olympics to his city, took up the theme as well in his remarks to the delegates, saying the City of Angels 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."

Olympic gold medalist swimmer Janet Evans was also part of L.A.'s bid presentation.

"People were interested. People were engaged. People were listening, and that's really what you want," Evans told Eyewitness News by phone following the event.

Evans said she wanted the message of diversity to be prevalent in the city's bid.

"Because we do really feel that we are an outward-facing city, that we embrace diversity," she said.

L.A. bid leaders said they have contacted Trump's transition team, and they are confident that the president-elect will be an enthusiastic supporter.

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.

Right now there are just three cities left battling it out - Los Angeles, Paris and Budapest. Boston and Rome recently dropped out of the race.

Evans said the presentations by Paris and Budapest were excellent, and Los Angeles faces stiff competition.

There are still two more presentations scheduled next year - one in Switzerland and another in Peru.

The IOC is slated to vote on the host city next September.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.