American arrogance? An Olympic bid while Trump tells the rest of the world to get lost

American arrogance? An Olympic bid while Trump tells the rest of the world to get lost

It turns out, thankfully, that Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti will not tailor his conscience to suit the fascism of the times.

(Did I just write fascism instead of fashions?  Must have been a typo.)

In a statement about the Xenophobe-in-Chief’s travel and immigration bans on people from seven predominantly Muslim countries, the most offensive but only the latest of the president’s unconscionable statements or orders, Mayor Garcetti said such action “only fans the flames of hatred that those who wish us harm seek to spread.”

So much for any worry that Garcetti would hold his tongue to curry the Madman-in-Chief’s support for the Los Angeles 2024 Summer Olympic bid.

The time also has come for the United States Olympic Committee to end its silence, no matter that the Third Grader-in-Chief might immediately give his usual “nyah, nyah” response on Twitter and do his best to undermine the Los Angeles bid (which he is doing already.)

And it is high time for the three International Olympic Committee members from the United States – including two women, one an African-American – to show they stand against intolerance. Neither of those two women, Olympians Anita DeFrantz and Angela Ruggiero, has replied to messages seeking comment.  DeFrantz once was courageous enough to defy the U.S. government by publicly criticizing the White House-mandated U.S. boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

And time for the IOC, which reaped such goodwill over its refugee team at the 2016 Olympics, to speak out rather than continue to hide behind the shibboleth of not interfering in the governance of sovereign nations.  That IOC already insists Olympic host cities – and by extension, their governments – play by its rules.

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Athletes save the Olympics from their leaders' big lies

Athletes save the Olympics from their leaders' big lies

Oh, how the International Olympic Committee must yearn for the good old days of 1999, when revelations of bribes for bid city votes led to the worst scandal in the hoary (or should that be whorey?) history of the IOC.

Because as bad as that was, 2016 was even worse.

That is a painful irony given that years with an Olympics usually leave enough good recollections to wipe the seamier ones from the public memory bank.

Not so in 2016, even if the underlying point of this column, as it has been in each of the 30 years for which I have given international sports awards, still is to celebrate the best athletes in sports for whom an Olympic gold medal is the ultimate prize.

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Smith and Carlos to represent for Team USA. Right on.

Smith and Carlos to represent for Team USA.  Right on.

It was going to be just a gesture of reconciliation, a long overdue welcome back for sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos, an invitation for them to be part of the Olympic family in the United States again after nearly 50 years as institutional outcasts.

Now, thanks to an accident of timing and the good intentions of the U.S. Olympic Committee leadership, it can be so much more.

There is a backstory here, and I will talk about it later.  But, right up front, it should be said that the USOC’s asking the two 1968 Mexico City medalists to be U.S. Olympic ambassadors and to accompany members of the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic teams on their White House visit Thursday is an important statement in these troubled times for our nation.

“The conversation they started in 1968 is still relevant today.  They are still relevant today,” USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said.

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For African-American Water Polo Goalie Ashleigh Johnson, The Medium Is The Message: Everyone Into The Pool

Swimming gold medalist Simone Manuel is not the only African-American woman with a landmark achievement in a Rio Olympic pool.

Water polo goalie Ashleigh Johnson also has made history for black women in the water, whether she wins a medal or not – and her team has a perfect (4-0) record going into Wednesday afternoon’s Olympic semifinal against Hungary.

Manuel, 20, of suburban Houston, became the first African-American woman to win an individual swimming gold medal. In her reaction to that moment of triumph in the 100-meter freestyle, she also won worldwide acclaim with an emotional and eloquent acknowledgement of those black swimmers who had inspired her and her desire to inspire others.

Johnson, 21, of far exurban Miami, is the first black woman to represent the United States in Olympic water polo.

She also hopes her presence will have an “if-you-can-see-it, you-can-be-it” effect in motivating other African-American kids to learn to swim, whether or not it leads them to compete in one of the sports.