PARK CITY, Utah—More than seven months after querying the mayors of 35 U.S. cities about their interest in hosting the 2024 Summer Games, the U.S. Olympic Committee is far from deciding whether to go forward with a bid.
According to the USOC’s CEO Scott Blackmun, that decision won’t likely be made until the end of 2014, and it will turn on three factors.
“Can it be financially successful? Can we do a great job putting on the Games? Can we win?” Blackmun said Tuesday during a news conference at the Olympic Media Summit, which is being held to showcase the top winter athletes expected to compete at the 2014 Sochi Games in February.
In August, a Washington-based non-profit, DC 2024, announced its interest in bringing the 2024 Olympics to the city despite the USOC’s snub of a combined Washington-Baltimore bid just more than a decade ago. New York was the city the USOC chose instead to vie for the 2012 Olympics, which were ultimately awarded to London. More recently, a USOC-backed bid to bring the 2016 Games to Chicago was rejected by the IOC in the first round of voting.
On Tuesday, USOC officials made clear they only want to campaign for the 2024 Games if they have a strong sense they’ll prevail, given the high-profile rejections of New York and Chicago. But the process they’ll use to reach that decision hasn’t been determined.
Blackmun said the USOC wouldn’t necessarily cull the field of interested U.S. cities — believed to be fewer than 10, with Los Angeles, Dallas and Washington among them — as an initial step.
“Ideally we’d like to have the decision made by the end of 2014, and a city selected,” Blackmun said. “We’re not in any huge hurry right now.”
Asked about the potential impact of Russian anti-gay legislation during the upcoming Sochi Games, USOC chairman Larry Probst noted that IOC President Thomas Bach recently stated that he had received assurances from Russian officials that no athlete taking part in the games would be affected.
Blackmun added that the USOC, “first and foremost,” was a sports organization.
“We are not an advocacy group or a human rights organization,” Blackmun said. “We are a part of a worldwide movement, though. I think what we can do is advocate for change within our movement. Anything we can do within the International Olympic movement, within the U.S. Olympic movement, we want to do to make sure that people understand that we want all of our athletes — irrespective of any differentiating characteristics or orientation— to feel comfortable and are part of the U.S. team. We want to lead by example and advocate that we as a family are doing everything we can do to send the message that we don’t tolerate discrimination.”
Probst said he would support a change in the Olympic charter to explicitly state that discrimination based upon sexual orientation would not be permitted if such an amendment were put forth.
On Monday, Bode Miller, the country’s most decorated male Alpine skier, called the Russian law “an embarrassment” and said he felt it was hypocritical to prohibit athletes from voicing political views during the Games given the impossibility of separating sports from politics.
Blackmun said the USOC has never told its athletes what they can’t say but has simply sought to make them aware of the Russian law and potential consequences.