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Could a Donald Trump presidency doom L.A.’s bid to host Olympics?

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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RIO DE JANEIRO — Over the weekend, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti raised some eyebrows by saying that if Donald Trump won the White House in the fall, organizers of his city’s bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics could face an uphill battle in swaying the International Olympic Committee.

“I think for some of the IOC members they would say, ‘Wait a second, can we go to a country like that, where we’ve heard things that we take offense to?'” Garcetti said in an interview with the Associated Press.

Garcetti is a Democrat who has endorsed Hillary Clinton and spoke at last month’s Democratic National Convention. He appeared at a news conference in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday to share his city’s Olympic bid with the international press. He tried to walk back those comments, though he was still careful not to mention Trump’s name while presenting an Olympic vision that that’s not necessarily in line with some of Trump’s controversial comments on the campaign trail.

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“I would say this bid does not depend on any election. This bid is about a city that is connected to the Olympics and the way sports transforms and transcends politics,” he said. “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.”

Either Trump or Clinton will be in the White House when the IOC meets in September 2017 to choose a host city for the 2024 Games. Los Angeles, which hosted the Games in 1932 and ’84, is competing with Paris, Rome and Budapest, Hungary, and IOC members may have to decide whether Trump’s comments about Mexicans, Muslims and other immigrants fit in with the Olympic mission.

“They wonder, ‘Is America going to take this strange turn?’ ” Garcetti had told the Associated Press. “Were there to be an election result that is less international, more inward focused, maybe there’s even greater urgency to a bid like this.”

Other members of the Los Angeles 2024 bid committee were also on-hand Tuesday morning, including past Olympians. Following the news conference, a British journalist approached former sprinter Michael Johnson, the three-time Olympian and four-time gold medalist, and said of Trump, “A lot of people think he’s a bit of an idiot. Do you think he would help the bid or hinder the bid?”

Johnson, who was once a contestant on Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” reality show was diplomatic in his response.

“I think in our country what you’ve seen is the president of the United States doesn’t get intimately involved in the bid for the Olympics,” Johnson said. “As Mayor Garcetti stated earlier, regardless of who becomes president of the United States, a bid is separate from that, and I don’t think the bid will be affected.

“I think Los Angeles can stand on its own merits in regards to its bid and what sort of job Los Angeles can do in hosting the Games.”