The Washington Post

Washington’s bid to host 2024 Summer Olympics remains up in the air

U.S. Olympic Committee officials pared the list of cities they’re considering as a prospective host for the 2024 Summer Olympics on Tuesday but declined to say how many made the cut or whether Washington is among them.

It’s not entirely certain that the USOC will submit a bid for the 2024 Olympics, noted USOC chairman Larry Probst. That decision won’t likely be made until December or early 2015, after the International Olympic Committee has completed a review of its process for selecting Olympic hosts, which has come under fire in recent years.

“Until that process plays itself out, given that it could impact how the selection is made, we’re not going to make our decision on whether we’re going to submit a bid or not,” said Scott Blackmun, the USOC’s CEO, during a teleconference following the quarterly meeting of the organization’s 15-member board of directors.

In a low-key lobbying campaign conducted outside the public arena, at the USOC’s request, a group of business and civic leaders in Washington have been compiling a case for the city, along with northern Virginia and Maryland, to get the USOC’s nod as its candidate for the 2024 Games.

DC2024, as the regional effort is called, is led by Russ Ramsey, a Virginia based financier and philanthropist. Vice chairman is Ted Leonsis, Washington Wizards and Capitals owner and a former AOL executive and venture capitalist.

Other cities in the running are Boston, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, although San Diego officials may bow out, according to media reports, and throw their support behind Los Angeles, which is believed the front-runner.

Los Angeles staged the 1984 Summer Games that were widely deemed a success.

With the list of potential hosts culled in Tuesday’s closed-door voting, a smaller group of USOC board members and staff will start doing a deeper level of due-diligence. Of particular interest to the USOC are the cities’ plans for an Olympic Stadium — invariably the defining face of the Summer Games, playing host to the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and track and field events — and the Athletes’ Village.

Among the sites under consideration, if Washington were chosen to host the Games, is the RFK Stadium area.

It’s an open question whether choosing Washington, a city synonymous with American politics, as its candidate city would prove a help or hindrance to the USOC in winning the votes of the IOC delegates, who represent all corners of the world.

Under the new leadership of Germany’s Thomas Bach, the IOC may well revamp that way it selects Olympic hosts.

There is growing evidence that countries’ enthusiasm for hosting the Games is waning, given the wildly escalating costs of campaigning for hosting rights and building the venues and providing accommodations for athletes and workspace for the world’s media. Russia spent an estimated $50 billion to stage the 2014 Winter Games

USOC officials have asked 2024 candidate cities to go about their lobbying campaigns discreetly and with little fanfare for two reasons. One is to help rein in cost. Another, Blackmun acknowledged Tuesday, was to enable civic leaders to speak more freely in exploratory conversations with the USOC without “political risk.”

Liz Clarke currently covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. She has also covered seven Olympic Games, two World Cups and written extensively about college sports, tennis and auto racing.


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