Organizers of the Washington bid for the 2024 Olympic Games are pushing Mayor-elect Muriel E. Bowser (D) to join them as they make their final case to the U.S. Olympic official next week — but that may all depend on her D.C. Council colleagues.
Bowser said Wednesday that she told D.C. 2024 officials that she cannot participate as long as the council’s final legislative meeting of the year remains Dec. 16, the same day the city boosters are set to give a presentation to the U.S. Olympic Committee in Redwood City, Calif.
Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) said Wednesday that he is exploring whether the meeting, a particularly important one because it’s at the end of the council period, can be delayed a day so Bowser can fly to the Bay Area.
“If that meeting is changed — it’s Phil Mendelson’s decision — I’ll be able to go to speak up for the D.C. bid,” Bowser said at a Wednesday panel organized by the Greater Washington Board of Trade.
Three other U.S. cities — Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco — are seeking to become the official American bid city, and people close to the D.C. bid said they expect the mayors of those cities to be a part of their USOC presentations.
James Dinegar, the Board of Trade’s chief executive who is involved in the D.C. committee, told Bowser, “We’re encouraging you to go.”
“We’re certainly working with [Mendelson] to try and get that meeting pushed back a day,” he said. “We’ll see if that works out.”
Bowser said it was the local Olympic organizers who asked Mendelson to reschedule the council meeting.
Mendelson said he was approached by “folks heavily involved in the Olympics” about the schedule change but said he was not sure whether the meeting could be moved, citing multiple members who could not attend if the meeting were pushed to Wednesday.
“We’re looking at whether we can accommodate what’s going on,” he said. “But at this point, I can’t say whether it can happen.”
Bowser was among a broad cast of D.C., Maryland, Virginia and federal personalities who participated in an online video released by the bid committee this week to highlight Washington.
At the Board of Trade gathering at the Mayflower Hotel downtown, Bowser said she has been impressed by the local organization and that the District is “ready to step up to the plate to make the Olympics happen.”
“They have put together a tremendous effort, and I say that largely because they are putting together an effort that the governments aren’t going to be carrying the biggest burden for, and I think that’s very important,” she said.
Plans sketched out by D.C. 2024 envision a new Olympic stadium on the site of RFK Stadium, with an athletes’ village on an adjoining federal reservation. Other venues would be scattered throughout the District, Maryland and Virginia — most of them close to the Potomac and Anacostia waterfronts.
Bowser said the Washington bid had much going for it: a “compact” footprint for its event venues, three regional airports, a well-developed hospitality sector and a location on the East Coast — optimal for television coverage.
“I’m the optimistic sort by nature,” she said, “but I do feel very optimistic about our chances.”