United States’ Vice-President Joe Biden made a surprise appearance during the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) General Assembly here today and offered his implicit backing to Los Angeles’ bid for the 2024 Olympics.
Although Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser had helped open the two-day Assembly yesterday, Biden apologised for the “oversight” of there being no high-level Government representative at the prestigious meeting.
The 72-year-old, whose arrival prompted a brief halt in a presentation by Rio 2016, admitted he had been persuaded to attend by his “good friend” Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles, part of the city’s delegation in Washington as they bid for the 2024 Games.
“I’m not here lobbying for any city, although I do love Los Angeles,” Biden joked.
“The Mayor is my friend and he won’t let me back in LA if I don’t say that.
“But I am here to say thank you for your contribution to sport.”
Biden’s visit at the Assembly, being held in the United States for the first time since 1994, could have been seen as an attempt to smooth relations between Government and Olympic Movement, with Los Angeles competing against Budapest, Hamburg, Paris and Rome to stage the Games.
It follows US President Barack Obama having not attended a major Olympic event since his ill-fated presence at the 2009 International Olympic Committee Session in Copenhagen, where, despite delivering a speech to the IOC, Chicago were knocked out in the first round of voting for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which were awarded to Rio de Janeiro.
The Vice-President, who received an excellent reception from the delegates, offered his praise for the Olympic Movement for their “dedication to sport”.
“It [sport] is the single unifying principle in the world,” he said.
“There are more countries represented here today than there are at the United Nations.
“You make no distinctions, other than those based on excellence.”
The Assembly, which concluded today, saw the awarding of the inaugural World Beach Games to the American city of San Diego, while Doha replaced Rio de Janeiro as the hosts of the 2016 ANOC General Assembly.
By Michael Pavitt, this article was republished with permission from the original publisher Inside the Games www.insidethegames.biz