The last Summer Games in the United States were in Atlanta in 1996. Salt Lake City hosted the Winter Games in 2002. And USOC officials feel the timing may be right to try again after being rebuffed in its last two attempts to host the Summer Games.
Pursuing a bid is expensive in itself. Ten years ago, Washington-Baltimore’s failed 2012 bid cost $10 million, and whatever city is selected by the USOC can expect to spend considerably more to compete on the international stage. The USOC is trying to lower the costs of domestic bids: There is no longer a $2.5 million bid fee, said Sweeney, who said his group will need to raise $3-5 million in the next two years, mostly from the private sector.
New York was beaten out by London for the 2012 Olympics. Those were the Games that a Washington-Baltimore bid, led by McLean businessman Dan Knise, sought to host. But the joint bid was culled in the USOC’s preliminary cut in 2002, along with Houston, in favor of finalists San Francisco and New York.
A subsequent effort by Chicago to win the 2016 Olympics ended with an embarrassing rejection in the first-round of voting among IOC members despite a personal pitch from President Obama. Those Games were awarded to Rio de Janeiro.
The USOC didn’t submit a candidate for the 2020 Games, which will be awarded next month to one of three finalists: Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo.
With a population of 632,323, according to the U.S. Census Bureau Statistics, Washington ranks 24th among U.S. cities in term of population — considerably smaller than London and Beijing, which hosted the last two Summer Games.
But when cast as a region, the Washington area encompasses 4.4 million residents, boosting it to fifth in the nation behind greater New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami.
Sweeney said DC 2024 will cast its reach further still, to represent 7 million residents.
“This is a regional bid that involves two states and a major city,” Sweeney said. “We are maybe the only major world capital that has never hosted the Games. We really believe it would be our turn to shine.”