USOC won’t bid for 2020 Olympics, Denver still a possibility for 2022

BRIAN GOMEZ Updated: September 24, 2010 at 12:00 am • Published: September 24, 2010

The U.S. Olympic Committee has pulled out of contention for the 2020 Summer Games, increasing the chances it will bid for the 2022 Winter Games, possibly with Denver.

USOC chief executive officer Scott Blackmun said Friday at the U.S. Olympic Assembly it’s “highly unlikely” the Colorado Springs-based organization will join the fray for 2020, citing a desire to resolve a lingering revenue disagreement with the International Olympic Committee and recover from Chicago’s humbling, first-round exit in a 2016 Olympic bid.

A selection process for 2020 hasn’t been announced by the IOC, which will pick the host in 2013. More than a dozen countries have expressed interest in 2020, most notably South Africa with Cape Town or Durban; Mexico with Guadalajara or Monterrey; Japan with Hiroshima or Tokyo; Canada with Toronto; Italy with Rome; and Spain with Madrid.

No more bids are being taken for the 2018 Winter Games, with Annecy, France; Munich; and Pyeongchang, South Korea, up for an IOC vote in July. The IOC will name the 2022 host in 2015, with Bozeman, Mont., Reno, Nev., and Salt Lake City potentially grouped with Denver, the only city to win an Olympic bid, then give back the Games, in 1976.

Addressing about 450 USOC staffers and Olympic national governing body leaders at the Antlers Hilton, USOC chairman Larry Probst said the USOC sits “in a much better place today than this time a year ago,” mentioning the USOC’s contribution this month of $18 million to the IOC to settle a fight over the amount the USOC gives toward Games costs.

Still at stake is the issue of finding a new revenue-sharing structure – the USOC currently receives 12.75 percent of U.S. TV rights fees and 20 percent of global marketing profits, a tab that could reach as much as $750 million from 2005 to 2012. The USOC and IOC agreed last year to negotiate in 2013 on a revised formula that would take effect in 2020.

Probst termed Chicago’s defeat in October – the Windy City bailed out first, then Tokyo and Madrid, in a bid won by Rio de Janeiro – as “a shocking blow,” considering “the idea that America was once again ready, this time with the right candidate city. … It was a bid of incredible technical merit and social promise. And yet, we lost tragically in Round 1.”

Losing offered “perspective on where we really stood in the Olympic world,” Probst said, adding the setback “opened my eyes to the fact we had very serious problems within our own family, that trust was completely lost, and that nothing short of a full transformation in our relationships and our governance was needed.”

There’s also the feeling that “it’s a bigger world now, and there are a lot of places around the world that will compete aggressively to host” the Olympics, Probst said. “Clearly, the IOC has an initiative to take the Games to places they haven’t been before. … It’s a much more competitive landscape than it may have been 10 years ago or 20 years ago.”

Blackmun said until the table is cleared with the IOC, “We don’t think it’s in our interest to have an active bid. … We would like to host the Games in the United States. Whether it’s once every 10, 20 or 30 years, we want to be a host to the Games.”

For more Olympic coverage, visit www.gazette.com/olympics. Check out our Olympics blog at http://gazetteolympics.freedomblogging.com.

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