Washington, D.C. is one of four cities vying to be the host city for the Summer Olympics in 2024. Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles are the other cities competing for the bid. (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA)

Washington’s bid to land the 2024 Olympics has withstood the first cut by the U.S. Olympic Committee. Now comes the task of convincing USOC officials that the nation’s capital would make a more compelling case internationally for returning the Summer Games to the United States for the first time in 28 years than would Boston, Los Angeles or San Francisco.

The USOC’s board of directors had been expected to pare a list of six interested cities to two or three in voting earlier this week. Instead, they lopped just two hopefuls — Dallas and San Diego — and on Friday afternoon confirmed their finalists for a potential U.S. bid for the 2024 Games.

“Boston, L.A., San Francisco and Washington have each given us reason to believe they can deliver a compelling and successful bid, and we look forward to continuing to explore the possibilities as we consider 2024,” USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said in a statement.

It represented thrilling news to DC2024, the group of civic and business leaders that has worked largely behind the scenes in recent months to bring an Olympic Games to the Washington region for the first time.

“We are eager to showcase this wonderful region, which I really believe is in the middle of transformation,” said Russ Ramsey, a Virginia-based financier and philanthropist who serves as chairman of DC2024, in a telephone interview. “The untold story is a real opportunity. I don’t think the world appreciates the state-of-the-art facilities, the robust urban life and the thriving business community and transportation system that our region has to offer.”

It’s not certain that the USOC will go forward with a bid for the 2024 Games. Its most recent efforts — to bring the 2012 Games to New York and then the 2016 Games for Chicago — were soundly rejected by IOC voters.

The decision about whether to try for 2024 will hinge largely on the IOC’s current review of its process for awarding Olympic Games, which has led to exorbitant spending and dubious decision-making in recent years. The outcome of that review, part of so-called Olympic Agenda 2020 directed by newly appointed IOC President Thomas Bach of German, is expected in December.

After USOC officials have a chance to review the upshot of that review, they’ll likely decide in early 2015 whether to submit a bid and choose the city to put forward. That would give the USOC and its prospective host city roughly nine months to polish the sales pitch.

If the IOC’s traditional timetable is followed, formal bids for the 2024 Games would be due in September 2015. The IOC’s decision would follow in 2017. Among the world cities expected to seek the 2024 Games are Doha, Istanbul, Paris and Rome.