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Tue Apr 25 22:23:48 SAST 2017

LA's Games hopes Trumped

AFP | 2017-02-16 08:20:46.0
William Butkus joins about 12 protesters outside the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals courthouse in San Francisco, California February 7, 2017, after the Court heard arguments regarding President Donald Trump's temporary travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries. File photo
Image by: NOAH BERGER / REUTERS

Donald Trump may have given his unequivocal support to the bid by Los Angeles for the 2024 Olympics but the tumultuous first few weeks of his US presidency have dealt a blow to the city's hopes of staging the Games, analysts say.

Los Angeles and Paris are regarded as frontrunners ahead of Budapest in the race for the Games, which will end at an International Olympic Committee meeting in Lima in September to choose the winner. Domestic politics could give an unwanted kick to all three.

Trump has repeatedly backed the LA 2024 campaign. However, since Trump's phone call to IOC president Thomas Bach, his administration has been plunged into controversy over the sudden imposition of a travel ban on refugees and migrants from seven Muslim-majority nations deemed to be a security risk.

While the Trump travel ban was ultimately halted by a US federal court, the controversy has left LA 2024 dealing with a public relations problem at a time when it needs to win the hearts and minds of Olympics voters.

"I think what Trump has created has dealt a death blow to the opportunity for Los Angeles to be the host for 2024," said Derick Hulme, a political science professor at Michigan's Alma College.

"The IOC is a risk-averse body and is going to be very, very hesitant to award the Games to a country where it will have little confidence that all athletes will be able to attend the Games," said Hulme. "As long as Donald Trump is president, the US is effectively out of the running for the hosting of major sporting events."

Other experts were more circumspect, noting that the IOC had recently awarded Olympics to China and Russia. Jules Boykoff, a professor at Pacific University, said Trump had given more "space on the radio dial" for "xenophobes and racists".

"That will not play well with members of the IOC. But the other way to look at it is that it won't matter at all, because the IOC in its history has given Games to authoritarian regimes - look at Beijing, Sochi," said Boykoff.

Hungary also has an outspoken leader, Viktor Orban. And Hulme noted that Paris's bid could itself suffer political blowback if far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen succeeds in France's presidential elections inxx April and May.

"If the French don't go down the far-right route, France will be the host of the Games," said Hulme. "If France does, then the IOC is in a very difficult situation."

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