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Olympic voters weigh Donald Trump effect on Los Angeles 2024 bid

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Donald Trump‘s election as U.S. president has the potential to influence Los Angeles’ chances of hosting the 2024 Olympics. For better or worse.

Some International Olympic Committee members — who will choose between Los Angeles, Paris and Budapest, Hungary, in a vote next September — cited possible pros and cons on Wednesday of Trump’s role in the American bid.

As a polarizing presidential candidate, Trump’s words on Muslims, Mexicans and other issues could have offended some of the 98 IOC members from around the world who will select the host city.

“It may have,” the IOC’s longest-serving member, Dick Pound of Canada, told The Associated Press.

At the same time, Pound did not rule out the possibility that Trump could help win votes if he travels to Lima, Peru, in September to pitch the Los Angeles bid in person to the IOC ahead of the secret ballot.

“If he is there, and evidently he is someone who feeds off his audience, there is no reason to think he can’t work this audience as well,” Pound said.

South African IOC member Sam Ramsamy, whose country has been described by Trump as a “very dangerous mess,” dismissed any lingering effect with 10 months left before the 2024 Olympic vote.

“He has been rude to everybody,” Ramsamy told the AP. “I don’t believe it will affect bidding in any way.”

In a statement Wednesday congratulating Trump, the Los Angeles 2024 bid committee said the Olympics can “transcend politics and can help unify our diverse communities and our world.”

IOC President Thomas Bach offered a brief statement to the AP on Trump’s election.

“Let me congratulate President-elect Trump on his victory and wish him all the best for his term in office for all the people of the United States and of the world,” he said.

Swiss IOC member Rene Fasel suggested that if Trump spoke offensively during the presidential race, it was a tactic to woo voters that worked.

“You saw his speech today, and it’s already a different man,” Fasel said, citing Trump’s first public address as president-elect which sought to be more inclusive.

While Trump has little track record with the Olympic movement, his opponent, Hillary Clinton, was a supporter of New York’s failed bid for the 2012 Games and has attended several Olympics. She was First Lady when the U.S. last hosted the Summer Games — in Atlanta in 1996.

President Barack Obama went to the IOC vote in Copenhagen in 2009 to support Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympics. Chicago was still eliminated in the first round, with the games awarded to Rio de Janeiro.

Clinton’s presidential campaign has some close ties to Los Angeles bid leaders. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is a Democrat who spoke at the Democratic Party convention in July which formally nominated Clinton. Bid chairman Casey Wasserman was also a prominent Clinton backer.

Garcetti acknowledged in an AP interview in August during the Rio de Janeiro Olympics that some IOC members could be turned off by a Trump victory.

“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 then.

Garcetti remains more important to the bid than Trump, according to American IOC executive board member Anita DeFrantz.

“It’s the city that hosts the games, and it’s the mayor that signs the documents. It is not the president,” DeFrantz told The AP in Lausanne on Wednesday.

Pound believes Los Angeles leaders will urgently want to meet with Trump to see if he is “an enthusiastic supporter of this venture or not.”

“Your most important campaign is at home,” Pound said, suggesting that IOC voters and Olympic sports leaders can be swayed closer to election day. “The roadshow only happens in the last few months.”

Before that final stretch of campaigning, the city’s biggest rival — Paris — could have its own domestic politics to explain.

In May, France elects a president in a contest many predict will include far-right candidate Marine Le Pen among the two candidates in a second round of voting.

MORE: LA 2024 comments on Trump election

Yuzuru Hanyu opens Olympic season with record score

Yuzuru Hanyu
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A sore knee didn’t hold Yuzuru Hanyu back. A record score to open his Olympic season.

The Olympic and world champion from Japan hit a pair of quadruple jumps in his short program at the Autumn Classic, a lower-level event in Montreal.

He was rewarded with 112.72 points, the highest short program score recorded under the 13-year-old judging system. Video is here.

It looked like a home competition for Hanyu.

Upon finishing, he bowed toward one set of bleachers (maybe a dozen rows) at the Sportsplexe Pierrefonds. More than two dozen Japanese flags made it hard to see most of the faces.

He bettered Javier Fernández, a two-time world champion and training partner, by 11.52 points. Fernández also landed two quadruple jumps to tally 101.2.

Full scores will be here upon the conclusion of the short program. The free skate is Saturday at 8 p.m. ET. A live stream is here.

Hanyu now owns the three highest short program scores under the 13-year-old system. The other two were set in the 2015-16 season.

Showdowns like Hanyu-Fernández are usually reserved for, at the earliest, the Grand Prix series in late October and November.

Hanyu and Fernández are very familiar with each other, having shared a coach in Canadian Brian Orser, the 1988 Olympic silver medalist, since 2012. They train in Toronto.

In that time, Hanyu became the first Japanese man to win an Olympic title (and the second teen from any nation to do it). He followed it up with world titles later in 2014 and this year.

Fernández achieved unfathomable success for a Spanish skater — world titles in 2015 and 2016, overtaking Hanyu in the free skate both times.

In PyeongChang, Hanyu can become the first man to repeat as Olympic champion since Dick Button in 1952. Fernández can become the third Spaniard to earn a Winter Olympic medal of any color in any sport, and the first since 1992.

The figure skating season continues next week with Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany, the final Olympic qualifying competition. North Korea could clinch its first spots in any sport for the Olympics in the pairs event.

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MORE: What to watch every day of PyeongChang Olympics

USOC letter assures Olympians about South Korea security

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The U.S. Olympic Committee’s security chief sent a letter to potential Winter Olympians saying there are no indications that recent developments between the U.S. and North Korea have compromised security in South Korea.

The letter, obtained by The Associated Press shortly after it was sent Friday, makes no suggestion that the U.S. is considering skipping the PyeongChang Winter Games for security reasons.

But Chief Security Officer Nicole Deal does write that provocations that have been volleyed between the United States and North Korea are likely to persist for the foreseeable future, and “should not be dismissed as insignificant nor feared as precursors of an inevitable conflict.”

The letter comes at the end of a week in which France’s sports minister suggested the country’s athletes would stay home if security could not be guaranteed.

The International Olympic Committee, trying to calm concerns, reiterated that in conversations with high-level officials in China and South Korea, none have expressed doubt about the Winter Games proceeding as scheduled, next February.

The USOC also sent out a public statement Friday from CEO Scott Blackmun.

“We will continue to work with our State Department and local organizers to ensure that our athletes, and our entire delegation, are safe,” he said.

The letter, sent to athletes, national governing bodies and other Olympic leaders in the United States, said the USOC’s security division is operating as “business as usual for our security planning and preparations.”

Deal writes that the USOC is reviewing crisis management plans that address a range of potential scenarios “to ensure our athletes, and our entire delegation, are safe.”

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