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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Of The Golden Stars Of Rio – And Those Who Made All Medals Shine Brighter

Who was the biggest star of the 2016 Olympics?

It depends on your point of view.

From a global perspective, the answer is undoubtedly Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, because track and field is one of the two most widely followed and played sports in the worlds (soccer is the other). And the world’s fastest man is the most prized Olympic distinction. And Bolt’s triple-triple, consecutive Olympic golds in the 100, 200 and sprint relay, may last as long as our galaxy.

From the host nation’s perspective, it would have to be Neymar, who scored the lone goal and the decisive penalty kick as Brazil won its first Olympic title in soccer. Neymar was Sidney Crosby 2010 redux: the athlete assuring soul-salving gold in his country’s national sport.

From a U.S. perspective, the choice isn’t as clear-cut, as Sports Illustrated showed with a cover featuring swimmers Katie Ledecky and Michael Phelps and gymnast Simone Biles, whom it called, “The Greatests.” Plural.

While that SI issue focused on just the first week of Olympic action, the three cover athletes essentially played a successful game of “Can you top this?” Ledecky won four gold medals and a silver and set two world records; Phelps won five golds and a silver, improving his record Olympic totals to 23 golds and 28 total; Biles won four golds, a bronze and the acclaim of venerable coach Martha Karolyi as the greatest gymnast of all time.

Whether you think someone topped those three as the No. 1 Team USA athlete will depend on whether you think an athlete who did brilliantly in his or her only Olympic event should get equal credit with athletes whose sports provide the opportunity to win multiple medals.

I tend to come down on the side of multiples, especially when the achievements were as remarkable as those of Ledecky, Phelps and Biles. If forced to pick one, I would go for…nope, not doing that. Sorry. Don’t want to be trolled to distraction.


Ibtihaj Muhammad’s Olympic Qualification A Ray Of Hope For Muslim-American Women

Ibtihaj Muhammad poses for a portrait at the 2016 Team U.S. Media Summit on March 9, 2016 in Los Angeles.

Ibtihaj Muhammad poses for a portrait at the 2016 Team U.S. Media Summit on March 9, 2016 in Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES - Ibtihaj Muhammad was not making a fashion statement. What she wore at the Team USA Media Summit last month in Los Angeles spoke of something much more significant.

She was dressed in blue jeans, a white jacket with a red U.S. Olympic team logo and a charcoal scarf covering her head, ears and neck, lining the oval of her copper-colored face.

It was the scarf that had drawn all the attention. There is an irony in having that dark, monochrome scarf be the attraction, given that Muhammad has such a sense of style she has launched a clothing line full of distinctive apparel in bright colors and intricate patterns.

The scarf, known now as hijab although referred to in the Quran as khimar, is plenty eye-catching in one of Muhammad’s worlds, the world of Olympic sports, where few wear it.

For Muhammad and many Muslim women, hijab is a symbol of both their identity and their spiritual connection to God. And she is soon to be the first U.S. athlete who competes in hijab at the Olympics.