LA 2024 CEO Gene Sykes: Donald Trump more helpful lobbying for LA bid than Barack Obama

In September, the IOC will announce the host city for the 2024 Summer Olympics, with only Los Angeles and Paris as remaining candidates. President Donald Trump has taken a hard line stance on immigration, and it’s been speculated that his presidency would hurt Los Angeles’ bid.

But according to at least one man prominently involved in the LA bid, that does not appear to be the case.

“LA2024 CEO Gene Sykes said Trump’s been lobbying leaders of the International Olympic Committee, who pick the winner, inviting them to the White House and making sure his travel ban didn’t hold up athletes coming to the U.S. for qualifying events,” Ben Bergman of said. “Sykes made the remarks during a panel discussion about the Olympics on Thursday at the Montgomery Conference in Santa Monica.”

Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama, was also heavily involved in an American Olympic bid during his first year in office. In 2009, President Obama’s adopted hometown of Chicago was an IOC finalist for the 2016 games and the new president worked hard to try to land the bid. It was unsuccessful. Chicago was eliminated in the first round of voting, and the 2016 Summer Olympics ultimately were awarded to Rio de Janeiro.

According to Sykes, President Obama took a more hands off approach after that.

“He never went to an Olympic games, never met with the IOC [International Olympic Committee] leadership, never talked to them by phone, and showed sort of a disregard and that was deeply frustrating to the leaders of the IOC,”  Sykes said, per Bergman.

It was a mistake for President Obama to be so active in Chicago’s bid. Chicago was competing with three other world class cities. While its first round elimination was a surprise, Chicago not getting the bid was far from an upset. It was a political hit to Obama that didn’t have much of a payoff. Even if it worked out well, a successful Olympic bid isn’t really going to have an impact on a President’s legacy, nor should it.

Trump is in a slightly different position.

His candidacy and presidency has been much more controversial than Obama’s, especially as it relates to immigration. That’s certainly something that an international event like the Olympics has to be concerned with. So, easing some of those concerns is not a bad move.

Additionally, Los Angeles is only competing with one city. On top of that, Chicago had never hosted an Olympics before. Los Angeles has hosted the Summer Olympics twice. As was the case with Obama, overseeing a successful Olympic bid won’t and shouldn’t be a huge deal to Trump’s legacy. But he has a lot to lose and mathematically, a much better chance at succeeding.