The United States Olympic Committee will bid to host the Summer Olympic Games in 2024.
San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. are all vying to be selected as the choice of the USOC. Teams from the four cities made their presentations to the USOC board behind closed doors on Tuesday. In their proposals they used terms you might not normally associate with the global event -- terms like “sustainable” and “affordable.”
"We put on a great presentation," said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. "On a scale of one to 10, we put on an 11."
Boston pitched the first "walkable" Olympics. The city says it won’t build a single new parking space, other than for the disabled. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti wouldn’t go that far — but said he’s proud to offer “sustainable and affordable games.” San Francisco’s plan calls for a pop-up Olympic stadium that would be taken apart and recycled. Washington, D.C. wants to use mostly existing venues. The USOC said this is exactly what the International Olympic Committee is asking for.
"What the IOC is trying to do is make this process more cost-effective, more efficient," said USOC Chairman Larry Probst. "And they want to see bids that harmonize the long-term plans of the city with the Olympic Games. And so that’s perceived as a very positive thing by all of the cities that we’re considering."
The IOC announced these changes earlier this month to try to get more cities to bid for the Olympics. It’s responding to the backlash at costly games that leave host cities with empty venues. Russia spent more than $50 billion on the Sochi Games, and the Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing has become a "white elephant." The IOC's commitment to avoiding boondoggles like those is encouraging to Probst.
"And we think that we've four great candidate cities, and we think it’s our time to move forward with a bid," he said. "We’re optimistic about our opportunity to compete with other cities around the world."
The United States' Turn?
[sidebar title="A 'White Elephant' In The Amazon?" width="630" align="right"] After the 2014 World Cup, the future is murky for Brazil's Arena de Amazonia. [/sidebar]"There’s no stronger signal than the IOC President saying, 'We want the Americans to bid'," said USA Today’s Nancy Armour, who has covered the Olympics since 1996, the last time the U.S. hosted the summer games.
Armour said this a significant turnaround. New York lost its bid for the 2012 Olympic Games. In 2009, President Obama showed up in Copenhagen, only to see Chicago’s 2016 bid voted out in the first round of balloting. Four years ago, the U.S. did not even submit a bid. But Armour said Probst has worked hard to repair his staff’s relationship with the IOC.
"They can make a bid knowing for sure that there is no chance that they will be embarrassed like they were in the 2016 or in the 2012 votes; that will not happen again," Armour said.
The USOC also feels good about timing. When 2024 rolls around, it will have been 28 years since the U.S. last hosted the summer games, in Atlanta. So it may be the U.S.’s turn.
"Now, the other cities in the race can make that same statement," said Robert Livingstone, who handicaps the competition to host the Olympics on his website GamesBids.com.
"Paris bid three times recently and lost all three, so they think it’s their turn," he said. "You’ve got a city from South Africa that might be bidding. The Games have never been to Africa. So they think it’s their turn. So it’s gonna be a race. Nobody’s guaranteed to win it."
And with the IOC calling for cheaper bids, more cities may be getting into the race. Rome is already in. Berlin may bid. Istanbul and Melbourne are also in the picture. In early January, the USOC will choose between LA, Washington, D.C., Boston and San Francisco.
Let the games begin.
This segment aired on December 20, 2014.