Olympic notebook

U.S. not seeking 2020 Summer Olympics

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By Amy Shipley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 21, 2010

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Recently rebuffed in its attempt to hold the 2016 Summer Games in Chicago, the U.S. Olympic Committee does not plan to enter a U.S. city in the race for the 2020 Summer Games and remains uncertain about when it will next attempt to bring a Games to U.S. soil, USOC Chief Executive Scott Blackmun said Saturday morning.

"The cold and hard reality is Chicago spent approximately $80 million on its bid," Blackmun said. "It's going to be difficult to get U.S. cities to continue to invest to that level unless they think they have a realistic chance of winning. The [International Olympic Committee] sent us a message, loud and clear, that they don't want the Games to be in the United States."

Blackmun also said, "Unless we get some signs from the IOC, I think it's highly unlikely we would mount a bid on our own initiative."

That would ensure at least 20 years between Olympics on home soil. The last U.S. Games took place in Salt Lake City in 2002.

That's why, four months after Chicago finished fourth in the race for the 2016 Games after an IOC secret-ballot vote in Copenhagen, USOC Chairman Larry Probst has attended just three events at these Olympics, even while American athletes compile record medal totals and threaten to win the medal table for the first time in 68 years.

The head of what many would call the least popular Olympic committee in the world has been busy around the clock, trying to restore the organization's international credibility one handshake at a time.

Probst said Saturday he has met personally with 32 of the IOC's 100-plus officials. Forty-one IOC members showed up for a cocktail party hosted by the USOC earlier in the Games. Probst and USOC officials also have held meetings with the Chinese, Mexican, Japanese and Saudi Arabian Olympic committees.

"We've had multiple meetings; I would characterize them as cordial and constructive," Probst said. "We say: 'What can we do better? What advice do you have for us?' We point-blank ask those questions."

The USOC already missed the deadline to enter a city in the field for the 2018 Winter Games; it would have to have a city ready by the next year if it wanted to contend for the 2020 Summer Games.

"There are a couple of cities interested in the Winter Games, I'm not aware of any cities pounding on the door about the Summer Games," Probst said.

Lago makes hasty exit

In other news, Blackmun said snowboarder Scott Lago voluntarily left the Games after several risqué photos of him appeared on a tabloid Web site. Lago was photographed allowing a young woman to bite his medal while he held it below waist level. The USOC will not reprimand Lago.

"Before we could even have a reaction to it, he informed us of his own decision to leave," Blackmun said.

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