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Politics could play role in whether LA gets 2024 Olympics

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, center, speaks during

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, center, speaks during a news conference in Los Angeles on  Jan. 25, 2017. Credit: AP / Jae C. Hong

The IOC will decide later this year where to hold the 2024 Summer Games, and there is no doubt about NBC’s rooting interests. If Los Angeles were to get them, it would be a boon to the Olympics’ United States’ TV home.

But many wonder whether that vote will be complicated by the current political climate in the United States, and the resulting effect on the country’s image abroad.

“I think it would be great for us and for the Olympic movement for them to be here,” NBC Sports chairman Mark Lazarus said on Thursday of the prospects of L.A. landing the Games.

But what about the international politics of the vote?

“It’s out of our hands,” he said. “There are 110, roughly, IOC members who all vote individually, and I would assume that the political climate affects their view of each and every big city. So certainly it concerns us that that could have a negative impact, but I hope not.

With populist movements rising in both Europe and the United States, and with them a more inward-looking mood rather than a global one, Lazarus was asked why the Olympics are still important.

“You say, ‘Why is it still important?’ I say it’s more important, for just those reasons,” he said. “It is one of the few things that brings the world together, especially the youth of the world . . . It’s young people from around the world in a celebration of competition and fair play.

“And no matter what’s going on in the world, that still brings great joy to people around the world. So I think it’s more important and more needed than ever.”

Asked whether he wonders how American TV viewers might react to athletes from countries not currently in the United States’ good graces, Lazarus said, “I don’t know. We haven’t experienced this to this level before. What we do know is that it’s our job to present the games and all of the athletes and countries that are represented. Every country that participates in the Olympic Games has people from those countries or heritage that live here.

“Our job is to show the best athletes and the most interesting stories regardless of where they’re from. Our coverage will not be biased by what is going on politically. We’ll be covering the Games as they develop and present themselves.”

New York Sports