To bid or not to bid? And if so, for the summer of 2024 or winter of 2026?
That’s the task for the US Olympic Committee’s working group, which will make a report to the board in December.
The last two American bids for Games, for 2012 and 2016, were disasters, with New York going out in the second round and Chicago rejected before its mayor had entered the convention center for the vote.
Now that the USOC and the International Olympic Committee have resolved their revenue-sharing dispute with a long-term agreement, the major roadblock is gone.
The IOC clearly would love to have an American candidate, if only to jack up US television rights fees.
But with the cost of a bid around $50 million and trending higher, the USOC understandably is reluctant to put up another also-ran entry.
“If we don’t think we can win, we will not bid,” chief executive Scott Blackmun declared after the recent board meeting.
The Americans haven’t hosted the Summer Olympics since Atlanta in 1996 and haven’t bid for the Winter Games since Salt Lake City hosted in 2002.
With the next two winters slated for Europe (Sochi, Russia) and Asia (Pyeongchang, South Korea) and Munich and St. Moritz both possible candidates for the 2022 edition that will be awarded in 2015, the geopolitical rotation would favor a bid for 2026; and Salt Lake City, Denver, Reno-Tahoe, and Bozeman, Mont., all have expressed interest.
More likely, though, would be a bid for the summer of 2024, especially if a European city (Madrid or Istanbul) gets the 2020 nod next year. Though the USOC could put up Chicago or New York again or the intriguing possibility of San Francisco, the competition would be stiffer, with Toronto, the next Pan American Games host, likely to be in the chase as well as 2012 runner-up Paris, which would be celebrating the centennial of hosting the 1924 version.
“It’s possible that we could come to the conclusion that a bid does not make sense for a variety of reasons,” observed USOC chairman Larry Probst.
Sticking with it
Whether or not there is an NHL season this year, the international ice hockey federation is expecting the pros to compete in the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. “We’ve prepared everything with the idea that NHL players will be there,” said IIHF president Rene Fasel. “We’ve decided about the format and expect them to be there.” Though the NHLers have participated in the last four Games, it’s uncertain whether club owners would want their stars to take a fortnight off and fly to the Black Sea and whether the stars would want to go anyway. The Russians, who were sixth in Vancouver and haven’t won the gold since the Unified Team did it in 1992, badly want to field their best squad and likely would put pressure on the Ovechkins and Kovalchuks to sign on . . . Who will be on the US short-track speedskating team for this autumn’s World Cup season? That may depend on the outcome of next week’s arbitration hearing over whether controversial coach Jae Su Chun should be dismissed because of his alleged mistreatment of some athletes. Several of the skaters who made the team at last weekend’s trials, most notably men’s victor J.R. Celski, signed the complaint against Chun. Since the deadline to accept team berths is Sunday, they’ll have to decide before they know Chun’s fate. If they decline, they will get their spots back if Chun is let go. Meanwhile, Simon Cho, the Olympic medalist who claims that Chun told him to tamper with a Canadian rival’s skates at last year’s world meet, failed to make the squad after coming in as national champion. Missing out, too, were 2010 veterans Kimberly Derrick, Allison Baver, and Jordan Malone. Katherine Reutter, who won two medals in Vancouver, is rehabbing from surgery and back problems and could make the team for the second half of the season, which includes the world championships.
The Olympic-year reunion at this month’s Head of the Charles Regatta will be the biggest and best yet, with 50 London rowers, most of them medalists, competing, including singles champions Mahe Drysdale and Miroslava Knapkova, who will also compete with the rest of the world’s top men’s and women’s scullers as “Great Eight” entries in the championship event, which Drysdale and his colleagues won amid the snowflakes three years ago. Five of the US gold-medal women’s eight will be joined by three members of the bronze-medal quad for a rematch with the runner-up Canadians, and Glenn Ochal and Charlie Cole from the men’s bronze-medal four will row a double . . . Kerri Walsh Jennings’s third straight Olympic beach volleyball title was all the more impressive since she was more than a month pregnant with her third child. Though partner Misty May-Treanor has retired, Walsh says she’s continuing on to Rio, where she’ll be 38 (“I want it”). Last month, she and new partner Nicole Branagh finished second to Olympic silver medalists Jen Kessy and April Ross in an AVP Tour event.
The women’s World Marathon Majors title and the $500,000 prize will come down to the series finale next month in New York, where either Olympic runner-up Edna Kiplagat or Boston victor Sharon Cherop could overtake Kenyan countrywoman Mary Keitany, who is done for the season. Gunning for her fourth straight Chicago crown Sunday but out of title contention (she loses the head-to-head tiebreaker with Keitany) is Russia’s Liliya Shobukhova, who is looking for redemption after dropping out at the Games. New York’s women’s field is top grade; besides Kiplagat and Cherop, there are the Olympic gold and bronze medalists (Tiki Gelana and Tatyana Arkhipova), and last year’s 1-2 finishers (Firehiwot Dado and Buzunesh Deba) will be at the line. The men’s contenders include former champions Meb Keflezighi, Marilson Gomes dos Santos, and Gebre Gebremariam as well as Olympic medalist Wilson Kipsang and Boston champ Wesley Korir. Geoffrey Mutai, who nipped training partner Dennis Kimetto by one second to win in Berlin last weekend, has wrapped up the men’s WMM crown . . . With home favorite and victor Marianne Vos the only Olympic champion turning up, there were three new faces atop the podium at the world road cycling championships in the Netherlands. Belgium’s Philippe Gilbert won the men’s road race while Germany’s Tony Martin and Judith Arndt claimed the time trials. While Olympic time trial victor Kristin Armstrong was absent, fellow Americans Taylor Phinney and Evelyn Stevens each won silvers in the event . . . Greenfield native Elena Pirozhkova, who came home empty-handed from the Olympic wrestling competition, collected a golden consolation prize at the women’s world championships in Canada, winning the 63-kilogram title. With Adeline Gray’s victory at 67 kg, it marked the first time that the Americans, who finished third behind China and Japan, had won two events at the tournament since 1999.
The US women’s hockey roster for next month’s Four Nations Cup in Finland includes a dozen Olympians, among them three-timer Julie Chu and Massachusetts natives Kacey Bellamy (Westfield), Meghan Duggan (Danvers), and Molly Schaus (Natick). Coach Katey Stone, who will direct the 2014 Olympic team, has three of her Harvard undergrads in the mix: Michelle Picard, Josephine Pucci, and Lyndsey Fry. The Yanks, who are defending champions, will take on archrival Canada, Sweden, and the hosts . . . All three of this month’s inductees for the US Hockey Hall of Fame have five-ringed résumés. Mike Modano played on three Olympic teams, winning silver in 2002. Ed Olczyk competed for the 1984 team at 17 as part of the “Diaper Line.” And Lou Lamoriello was general manager for the 1998 team, the first to use NHL players . . . Tickets for the American Cup, where Olympic champion Gabby Douglas had her coming-out performance this year, are on sale. The event is March 2 at Worcester’s DCU Center. While it’s unclear how many, if any, London gold medalists will perform, the prices are steepish ($39.50 to $150 before fees). They can be obtained at the box office, online at ticketmaster.com, or by calling 1-800-745-3000.
John Powers can be reached at email@example.com; material from Olympic committees, sports federations, personal interviews, and wire services was used in this report.