CHICAGO (CBS) – The U.S. Olympic Committee says it intends to bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics, but only if a strong candidate city emerges. Could Chicago be among the potential contenders?
In a word, no.
The Emanuel administration was unequivocal when asked if a 2024 Chicago bid could happen: “No, we’re not bidding.”
“I think (Mayor Emanuel) has spoken publicly on that, that they were not going to bid for an Olympic Games. That’s what we’ve heard to date,” says USOC Spokesman Patrick Sandusky, who worked on the failed Chicago 2016 Olympic bid.
The campaign ended in 2009 with a first-round elimination during the final selection process by the International Olympic Committee. The defeat stunned organizers and city leaders, just as it did the crowds of supporters who had gathered to watch the IOC vote in Daley Plaza.
It was the second consecutive loss for an American bid city for the Games. New York lost its campaign to secure the 2012 Olympics just four years prior.
The USOC has invited Chicago to bid again for 2024 but Sandusky says there’s been no response from City Hall. Mayor Emanuel had previously ruled out another Olympics campaign.
But circumstances have changed in the past year, and there have been strong signals from the IOC that would indicate an American bid city could be successful this time. The Games will be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and Tokyo in 2020, and some observers say the IOC appears to be ready to bring the Olympics back to the U.S.
As a matter of fact, the USOC claims it has received encouragement from IOC members who want America to be in the running.
An American bid is also on the mind of the new IOC President Thomas Bach. During a recent visit to Rome, he told reporters: “I think it’s time for the United States to present a strong bid.”
Could any of this lead to a reconsideration on Chicago’s part? So far, Sandusky says the silence from City Hall is deafening. And he adds that there’s been no lobbying of Chicago by anyone at the USOC.
“We haven’t had any conversations about lobbying particular cities to get in,” he says.
But Sandusky adds previous bid cities do have a track record of winning with subsequent attempts.
“Tokyo submitted its bid and they won. It was a competitor of Chicago’s in the 2016 race,” he says.
The USOC has also made great strides in mending fences with the IOC following a revenue-sharing dispute between the two organizations that may have negatively impacted Chicago’s 2016 bid. USOC leaders have also spent a significant amount of time rebuilding relationships and generating support for an American bid.
USOC Chairman Larry Probst, who was recently selected as an IOC member from the U.S., also has a good working relationship with the IOC’s Bach.
“He has a very good working relationship with the USOC. We’ve worked with him on a number of things through the years and I know our chairman and our CEO know him well. I don’t want to overstate it, but they have a good cordial relationship with him,” Sandusky says.
The USOC has sent letters of invitation to mayors in 35 U.S. cities about bidding for the 2024 games, but less than a dozen are considering the offer. Those include Boston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington D.C.; a website has been set up for the capital’s potential bid. Internationally, other potential 2024 bids could come from Paris, Doha (Qatar), Rome, Paris and possibly a city from Africa.
The IOC will pick its 2024 host in 2017.
It’s worth noting that the USOC generates more revenue for the Olympic movement than any other Olympic committee in the form of sponsorship and TV revenue. The U.S. hosted its last Olympics in 2002 – the Winter Games in Salt Lake City – and Summer Games in Atlanta in 1996.
Follow Steve Grzanich on Twitter @SteveGrzanich
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