They celebrated their past Olympic success in London and toasted to the present at Friday’s conclusion of the 2012 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Assembly at the Antlers Hilton.
Whether the U.S. Olympic Committee can revel in a future Olympic Games on American soil, that’s a question for down the road.
Way down the road.
Earlier this year, the USOC board pulled away from bidding on the 2022 Winter Games — which Denver was pursuing — deciding to focus its efforts on host bids for either the 2024 Summer or 2026 Winter Olympics. And despite those who think it’s merely the United States’ turn to host after a two-decade absence, there’s plenty to consider when billions of dollars are at stake.
“The Olympic Games have become tremendously expensive,” said Larry Probst, USOC chairman, in a press briefing after two days of board meetings. “We want to take a look at what that looks like and what makes sense financially. If it makes no sense financially, I think we’d come to the conclusion that we won’t bid.”
A committee, made from board members, will continue discussions and present a first report at its quarterly meeting in December in San Francisco. Among possible candidates for a 2024 could be previous finalists New York (2012) and Chicago (2016), along with Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas or even Atlanta, which played host to the last American-based Summer Games in 1996. Denver is expected to pursue a bid for the 2026 Winter Games.
Outside the hotel, the interactive USOC FanZone invited people of all ages to test their skills in six sports along with live demonstrations.
“We’ve made a conscious effort to be part of the community,” said Mark Jones, USOC director of communications. “It’s fun to see the result. We worked hard on the Downtown Celebration with the start of the London Games, and we want to give people the flavor of what we have to offer. People get excited, and that’s what we want.”
Friday’s festivities culminated with the annual awards dinner, which celebrated team and individual accomplishments. The London Games marked a record-breaking campaign for the U.S. team, which collected more gold medals than ever on foreign soil. With 104 total medals won — 46 golds, 29 silvers and 29 bronzes — Team USA led the medal count for the fifth straight Games, dating back to 1996. Overall, 208 U.S. athletes medaled at the 2012 Games, including 27 who won more than one medal and 13 who won multiple gold medals.
The award winners were Allyson Felix (woman); Michael Phelps (man), U.S. women’s eight (team); Jessica Long (Paralympic woman); Raymond Martin (Paralympic man); and U.S. men’s quad doubles wheelchair tennis (Paralympic team).