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Bid for 2012 Olympics Will Be New York's Best, Likely Its Last

By Amy Shipley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 20, 2005; Page E01

The leader of New York City's bid for the 2012 Summer Games said the group likely would not bid again for the 2016 Games should the International Olympic Committee fail to award the Olympics to New York this July, despite an understanding by many in the U.S. Olympic Committee three years ago when New York was chosen as the U.S. bid city that it would try again if it lost.

Elements critical to New York's Olympic plan that make it an ideal candidate for the 2012 Games probably would not be in place four years from now, bid founder and New York City Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Dan Doctoroff said.

Pictured is the area on the west side of New York where the Olympic stadium would be built if the city is awarded the Games by the IOC. But city officials said that if the Games go elsewhere, they will likely not bid for the 2016 Olympics. (Stuart Ramson -- AP)

"Our bid today is a combination of a unique series of resources that I'm not sure are replicable," Doctoroff said in an interview last week, days before the arrival of the IOC's 12-member evaluation team for a five-day stay in New York. "I do think this is a unique moment in time."

Doctoroff's frank assessment, which he said he would pass on to the IOC evaluation team this week if asked, indicates that it could be now or never for a Summer Games in New York City for the IOC, which nearly always has rewarded bidding cities on their second go-around but which also likes Games on U.S. soil because of the extraordinary sponsor and television dollars they help elicit from U.S. companies.

The IOC evaluation team, which consists of some IOC members and some outsiders, is in the midst of visits to the five cities bidding for the 2012 Summer Games: New York, Madrid, London, Paris and Moscow. New York is considered an underdog with Paris, which competed unsuccessfully for the 2008 Summer Games, viewed as the front runner. The 100-plus member IOC will choose by secret ballot the 2012 site during July meetings in Singapore.

Doctoroff's posture also could have major repercussions for the USOC, which in 2002 selected New York as its candidate city over San Francisco, Washington-Baltimore and Houston to conclude a four-year selection process that began with eight bidders. At the time, the USOC evaluation team that narrowed the field to New York and San Francisco (the USOC board of directors made the final selection) emphasized that it was seeking a city committed through the 2016 Summer Games.

"I would always start our first meeting by saying, 'We're here to investigate the possibility of holding the Games here in 2016,' " said Charles H. Moore, the USOC's site evaluation team leader at the time. "You need to convince us of the commitment . . . of your bids because no city ever won in the world on the first bid with one exception [Atlanta for the 1996 Summer Games]."

Added Moore, "I talked with each of our cities and said it's not just about 2012, it's about staying power."

Two officials associated with two other U.S. bids said they were under the impression that a long-term commitment was vital to winning the USOC's support, and some board members indicated at the time they believed New York was prepared to bid twice if necessary.

"You've got to look not just at 2012 because that will be hard to win, but also to 2016," Bret Bernard, a USOC executive committee member, told the San Jose Mercury News shortly before the November 2002 vote. "So relationships are long term."

Said Anne Cribbs, who directed San Francisco's bid, in a telephone interview last week: "They wanted to know: 'Are you guys in this for the long haul? If you're the city and don't win in 2012, are you committed to 2016 and beyond?' San Francisco has always said 'yes.' "

Doctoroff, however, said New York never made a formal commitment to 2016, nor did the USOC promise New York the right to bid again. "We've never even thought as far ahead as 2016," he said. There is no language compelling New York leaders to bid again in the bid city contract between the USOC and New York and, Moore acknowledged, the USOC evaluation team's emphasis in 2002 stopped short of being a "stipulation."

USOC Chief Communications Officer Darryl Seibel also said last week there was no expectation that an American candidate city should bid twice.

"All of our efforts have been focused on supporting New York's bid," he said. "We haven't contemplated anything other than New York succeeding in the bid."

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