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Now that the contest to host the 2024 Olympic Games has narrowed to just two cities, President Trump may have an opportunity to notch an international achievement that eluded his predecessor: attract the Olympics to the U.S. for the first time in decades.

Los Angeles and Paris became the final two cities in contention to host the 2024 games on Wednesday, when Budapest announced it was withdrawing its bid from the International Olympic Committee. Members of the IOC will vote on a host city in September.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer told the Washington Examiner that he believes Trump “would be very supportive” of Los Angeles’ efforts to host the 2024 Olympic Games. The president has already backed the city’s bid in a phone call to the head of the IOC, Thomas Bach, that was reportedly arranged by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti more than a month before the inauguration.

But mounting a successful plea for the Olympic Games proved impossible and costly for former President Barack Obama, who tried in vain to convince the IOC to choose Chicago as the site of the 2016 games.

And Trump has been sharply critical of Obama’s failure to bring the Olympics to his home city.

“Do you remember when the president made a long, expensive trip to Copenhagen, Denmark, to get the Olympics for our country? And, after this unprecedented effort, it was announced that the United States came in fourth. Fourth place,” Trump said during a campaign event in April of last year, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Obama did indeed travel to Copenhangen in 2009 to present Chicago’s case to the IOC before members voted on the location of the 2016 games. Chicago was knocked out during the first round of voting held shortly after Obama’s speech, a result that was widely viewed at the time as an embarassment for the young administration.

On the campaign trail, Trump referred to Obama’s failed Olympic pitch as “totally incompetent.”

“The president of the United States making this trip, unprecedented, comes in fourth place. He should have known the result before making such an embarrassing commitment. We were laughed at all over the world as we have been many, many times. The list of humiliations go on and on and on,” Trump said.

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Despite his criticism of the way Obama approached the Olympic issue, Trump may find the prospect of securing victory for Los Angeles difficult to resist.

Trump’s inaugural pledge to help America “start winning again” could find no more literal embodiment than winning an Olympic bid for America for the first time since 1990, when the IOC voted to select Atlanta as the site of the 1996 games.

And the months of preparation that precede the event would create thousands of jobs, fulfilling yet another of Trump’s most fundamental promises.

The 2012 Olympic Games in London created more than 100,000 jobs for local workers, while the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro lifted household incomes in the areas for years before the event and created 16,000 new jobs in the hotel industry alone.

Even so, critics contend that Olympic Games ultimately cost more than they generate in revenue, place undue burdens on local residents and leave behind giant stadiums that local sports teams can’t sustain on their own.

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The highly symbolic nature of hosting the Olympics is still enough to entice cities around the world into competing for the chance to bring home the games.

But the realities of hosting are also stark enough to scare off cities, including Budapest, that can’t square the sacrifices with the symbolism.



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