Now that Lausanne and Colorado Springs are all but sister cities again following the big hug given to the Americans at the recent International Olympic Committee meetings in Buenos Aires, does this mean there will be a US bid city for the 2024 Summer Games?
The IOC would like nothing more, but after the clobbering that New York and Chicago took in the races for 2012 and 2016, the USOC is in no rush to offer up another candidate.
“First step is, we have to decide that we are going to move forward and we have to go through a process of which city gives us the best chance,” said USOC president Larry Probst, who was elected as the fourth American member of the IOC while colleague Anita DeFrantz was restored to the executive board.
While the USOC last winter sent letters to nearly three dozen cities, including Boston, only a handful would be serious contenders in a chase that could include Rome and Paris.
“I think it’s got to be a city that is compelling to people around the world, that resonates with all of the IOC membership,” said Probst. “That’s not a long list of cities, realistically.”
Los Angeles, Washington, Dallas, Philadelphia, and San Diego have expressed interest, but the cost even of putting together a bid runs into the tens of millions of dollars. As the vote for 2020 shows, even experienced candidates get the back of the hand from the whimsical Lords of the Rings.
Madrid, which was runner-up to Rio de Janeiro last time and had 80 percent of the required venues in place, lost in a first-round runoff to Istanbul. It’s telling that neither Chicago nor New York is interested in stepping up to the plate anytime soon.
What would help an American bid, besides the recent restoration of five-ringed favor in the wake of a long-term revenue-sharing agreement with the IOC, is the geopolitical rotation. Seven of the previous nine Winter and Summer Games will have been been held in Europe or Asia and there hasn’t been a summer host in North America since Atlanta in 1996. Since Pyeongchang, South Korea, and Tokyo will be staging back-to-back, there won’t be an Asian candidate for 2024.
The USOC won’t bid for the 2022 Winter Games, even though Denver, Salt Lake City, Reno-Tahoe, and Bozeman, Mont., all were interested. With the application deadline just two months off, it’s unclear how many candidates there’ll be.
Munich, which was runner-up to Pyeongchang for 2018, may or may not try again and Annecy, the French town that was a distant third, definitely won’t. That leaves the likes of Oslo, the 1952 site, Almaty (Kazakhstan), Krakow, and Barcelona, the 1992 summer host that would use the nearby Pyrenees for the skiing events.
What will be Jacques Rogge’s legacy? Stability, integrity, and a tough stand against doping. Rogge, who succeeded Juan Antonio Samaranch as IOC president in 2001 amid the aftermath of the Salt Lake City corruption scandal, was a necessary symbol of rectitude for a membership that had been depicted as greedy vote-sellers. “There are no skeletons in the Rogge cupboard,” British member Craig Reedie said upon his election. Rogge, a Belgian orthopedic surgeon, amped up the IOC’s efforts against performance-enhancing drugs, particularly with the adoption of an eight-year look-back at samples that subsequently caught a number of medalists who thought they’d beaten the system. While the Games by no means are clean, they’re less dirty than they were a dozen years ago and much of the credit goes to Rogge . . . Thomas Bach, the German attorney who’ll follow Rogge, immediately will be dealing with host-city challenges. He’ll have to decide how the IOC will deal in practical terms with the new Russian law banning gay “propaganda” and let athletes know whether or not they can expect IOC protection if they encounter problems at this winter’s Sochi Games. He’ll also have to come with a Plan B if Rio de Janeiro can’t speed up its Olympic preparations for 2016.
Even though their combined bid to get back in the Olympic lineup struck out, baseball and softball might still have a chance for 2020 if the Tokyo organizers go to bat for them. The Japanese collected a fistful of medals from the two sports, making the podium in both in Athens and winning the softball gold in Beijing, and they already have the facilities in place. Getting the IOC to reconsider would be another matter, although the possibility may exist with Bach in charge. Merging the two federations, which some insiders had felt was necessary, didn’t help softball, which then formally was linked to a men’s sport with two big drawbacks: Its top stars wouldn’t play in the Games and its doping problems are back on the front page . . . Last weekend’s US International Classic, figure skating’s domestic opener in Salt Lake City, was a jolting experience for a number of Olympic hopefuls. Gracie Gold came apart in the free skate and was beaten by Courtney Hicks. Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir, the national pairs titlists from the Skating Club of Boston, finished fourth. And while men’s champ Max Aaron ended up first, he botched all three quadruple jumps in his long program. That’s not counting the withdrawals of Olympic champion Evan Lysacek, whose re-entry was delayed yet again, this time by a slight abdominal tear, and dancers Maia and Alex Shibutani, who pulled out after he tweaked his neck in practice. Lysacek and the “Shib Sibs” are on the card for next month’s Skate America, the Grand Prix opener in Detroit, as are Castelli and Shnapir, Aaron, and US champs Ashley Wagner and dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White . . . It was no surprise that Johnny Weir didn’t register for the qualifying competition for January’s figure skating national championships at TD Garden. The three-time former champion, who’s 29 now, hasn’t competed since he reinjured a knee last November and would have been a long shot to make the team for Sochi.
Count them in
Two members of the Fierce Five who won gold at Olympus will be competing at the world gymnastics individual championships in Belgium at month’s end. McKayla Maroney, the defending vault titlist, will be joined by Kyla Ross as well as new US champion Simone Biles and Brenna Dowell, who also made the podium. The rest of the London champions — all-around victor Gabby Douglas, floor champ Aly Raisman, and Jordyn Wieber — are taking a competitive sabbatical this year. Wieber has enrolled at UCLA, Raisman is taking courses at Babson, and Douglas, who has parted ways with coach Chow Liang, has gone to California to join her family, who moved there from Virginia . . . Rough opening for the US freestyle wrestlers, who are 0 for 6 after the first two days at the world championships in Budapest. But there’ll be two strong medal chances Wednesday with Olympic champion Jordan Burroughs and world medalist Alyssa Lampe and more later with defending women’s titlists Elena Pirozhkova of Greenfield and Adeline Gray plus fellow medalist Helen Maroulis and two-time greco-roman medalist Justin Lester.
From beach to Bedford
The US women’s ice hockey team has settled into its training headquarters at the Edge Sports Center in Bedford after five days of team-building near San Diego that included a beach “workout” and wearing “Our Team, Our Time” shirts. The reigning world champions will get a heavy dose of their Canadian archrivals en route to the Games during the “Bring on the World” tour that will include a date in Burlington, Vt., Oct. 12, a meeting at the Four Nations Cup in Lake Placid in early November, and a pair of December meetings in Grand Forks, N.D., and St. Paul . . . The Czechs gave the rest of the planet a paddling at last weekend’s world slalom canoe championships in Prague, winning three golds and three silvers in the 10 events. Nothing shiny for the Yanks, who had a couple near-misses from kayakers Fabien Lefevre, the former Olympic medalist for France, and Dana (Benusova) Mann, who won gold with Slovakia two years ago.
John Powers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; material from Olympic committees, sports federations, personal interviews, and wire services was used in this report.