DONALD TRUMP’s election to president has thrown the USA’s bid to host the Olympic Games in 2024 into question.
Donald Trump’s election to president means the Los Angeles 2024 bid is even more important.
The IOC is said to have reacted badly to Trump’s surprise victory, with concerns over his immigration policy a major factor.The LA bid team insist they will push on with their efforts to bring the Olympics back to the USA for the first time since Atlanta in 1996.
LA Mayor Eric Garcetti has warned of a possible struggle to secure the Games, while American sprint legend Allyson Felix has begged the IOC to ignore the divisiveness the election result has brought.
“I have one message for you: Please don’t doubt us,” Felix said last month. “America’s diversity is our greatest strength.”Los Angeles is bidding against Paris, who lost to London in the vote for the 2012 Games, and Budapest. They are two deserving cities, with grand plans to boost their economies while championing elite-level sport, but the argument for LA goes beyond finances and infrastructure.
Who should host the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games?
During the presidential campaign Trump infamously mocked a disabled reporter in a speech in front of thousands.Just days before the election he then ordered security staff to remove a boy suffering from cerebral palsy and in a wheelchair who was protesting against him.
Those are just two of numerous examples on Trump’s already badly stained record of offences that included awful remarks towards women, migrants and Muslims.
This could be disastrous for the Paralympic Games. Do we want to hand the Paralympics to a country run by a man who actively mocks the disabled? Of course not.
But let’s hope somehow the IOC do ignore it, for the future of disability sport could well rest on Los Angeles’ success in hosting these Games.
If the election result taught us anything it’s that we have to discuss, educate and engage with points of view we didn’t anticipate would enter mainstream politics this year. What if we can change that attitude through dialogue and example?As Paralympic GB multiple gold medalist Hannah Cockroft has said, handing Los Angeles the Games would put disabled sport firmly on the map in a way it otherwise cannot.
Allyson Felix has asked the IOC to not let Trump’s rhetoric derail the Los Angeles bid
And that’s because of one thing: television, which can lead by example like very little else.We saw at London 2012 how Paralympic sport can be well supported and how attitudes can change through sport. Channel 4 led in the UK and we rightly caught on. That needs to happen in America. Not strictly because of Trump, but because America is such a huge and influential country that if you get them on board with the Paralympic movement then other countries will follow.
It’s what happened in LA in 1984 when America led the way for the commercialisation of the Games and turned them from a top amateur contest into the global phenomenon it is today. This is now happening to the Paralympics but they’re still locked in the ‘80s compared to the Olympics. Maybe this is their chance.Channel 4 are rightly the flag bearers of Paralympic broadcasting right now. They revolutionised perceptions in London 2012 and smashed broadcasting records at Rio this summer. But they are minuscule compared to NBC, who effectively set the schedule for the major (or, in other words, most watched) Olympic sports to favour their prime time US markets. That’s why swimming took place in Brazil around midnight, so the US fans could watch Michael Phelps do his thing.
Trump carried the Olympic torch in 2004.
Two years ago NBC payed an estimated $7.65billion to broadcast the Olympics and Paralympics to over 300million people in the US through to 2032. And they value the majority of that investment into the Olympic Games, not the Paras.
In London, NBC broadcast over 5,500 hours of Olympics coverage. In Rio this summer that figure tipped over 6,000 hours. Compare that to the Paras, where they broadcast barely any of London 2012 and 70 hours of Rio 2016 (less than the Olympic TRIALS coverage) and you see how vast the void is between the two sporting events.
Bringing the Paralympics to US prime-time television is vital to changing and improving attitudes worldwide. America very often sets the global agenda that we follow.
The USA should dominate Paralympic sport like they do in the Olympics. But they don’t. In London they finished sixth in the medals table and fourth in Rio — both times behind Ukraine. It is proof that the former takes precedent over the latter. But hosting the 2024 Games would change that.
The Los Angeles 2024 bid team is working on bringing the Games back to the USA.
Paris are also bidding for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games
The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) say they are working on improving their standing in the Paralympic movement but what they really need is the incentive of hosting the Games to force that commitment. Paralympic funding should not be a begrudging obligation but if we need to push the US into properly addressing these issues then I’m all for it.
Only then will the Paralympics get their big chance to prove to the world — not just to Britain — that disability sport can change perceptions, can influence the agenda.
Because right now America has elected a president who mocks disabled reporters. Can you imagine if PM Theresa May did that? It feels as though disability awareness isn’t as defined in the consciousness in America as it is over here. But maybe handing the United States hosting rights for the Greatest Show on Earth could change that.
Source: Express News.