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Biden apologizes over Olympic meeting "oversight"

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By Hugo Lowell
Biden apologizes over Olympic meeting "oversight"

<p>U.S. Vice President Joe Biden apologized on Friday after no senior administration official greeted Olympic delegates at a worldwide meeting in Washington.</p> <p>The Association of National Olympic Committees (<span class="caps">ANOC</span>), which represents 206 national federations, had been in the U.S. capital since Tuesday before opening their general assembly and gala awards ceremony on Thursday. </p> <p>The United States has not hosted the event for 21 years, but the practice of a senior government official of the host country to address the opening session has remained the same.</p> <p>The absence of a representative from the U.S. government was noted by the sports bodies, and pushed by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Biden arrived unannounced Friday morning in a bid to make amends.</p> <p>“My very good friend Mayor Garcetti of Los Angeles was having breakfast with me the other morning and he said, ‘You know, I think there has been an oversight , no one from the administration has been here to welcome this distinguished delegation of leaders from around the world’,” Biden told the meeting. </p> <p>“He is right, it was an oversight and for that I apologize and I am poor substitute, but I am delighted to be here,” he said in an apparent reference to President Barack Obama.</p> <p>The error was initially seen on the opening days as an embarrassment to the U.S. Olympic Committee (<span class="caps">USOC</span>) and as part of the fallout from Chicago’s failed bid for the 2016 Olympics.</p> <p>President Barack Obama had flown out to Copenhagen to personally speak at the 2009 International Olympic Committee vote, only for the American city to be eliminated in the first round.</p> <p>But Biden’s attendance would have come as a relief both to the <span class="caps">USOC</span> and the Los Angeles 2024 Games bid committee, who have been working to improve relations with Olympic officials, after the 1984 Olympic host city replaced Boston as the American front-runner.</p> <p>“I’m not here lobbying for any city, though I do love Los Angeles,” Biden said. “All kidding aside, Garcetti is my friend and he won’t let me back in L.A. unless I say something nice.”</p> <p>Biden sought to calm nerves and underline his commitment to a U.S. by adding: “I’ll be the captain of the U.S. Olympic team. “I’m running the 100 meters. Don’t I wish I could.”</p> <p>Boston pulled out of the bidding race in July after its Mayor refused to contribute towards the eventual bill.</p>