The International Olympic Committee began taking bids from cities Thursday for the 2022 Olympics.

U.S. Olympic officials, however, are standing by a decision made in 2012 to keep U.S. cities out of the running for the 2022 Winter Games and focus on the next two Olympiads.

"We're currently discussing a potential 2024 bid with various cities around the country," said USOC spokesman Mark Jones via email Thursday morning.

The Associated Press reported in February that the USOC sent letters to leaders in 35 cities, gauging interest to bring the Summer Games back to the U.S. for the first time since the 1996 games in Atlanta.

While the USOC said in July 2012 that it would focus efforts on 2024 or the Winter Olympics in 2026, Jones would not say whether or not Denver was a front-runner for a 2026 bidding process.

The Denver Olympics Bid Exploratory Committee had voted to host in 2022 just a week before the USOC made the decision to focus on 2024 and 2026. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper's office said last year that cost estimates for hosting the Winter Games in Denver would be about $1.5 billion.

The U.S. last hosted a Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City in 2002.

The first phase of the 2022 bidding process will entail soliciting questionnaires from interested cities. Review of those bids will then evaluate "each of the city's potential to organize the 2022 Olympic Winter Games," the IOC said in a press release.

Candidate cities will be chosen in July 2014 from the field and the committee will select a host city in July 2015 at the 127th IOC Session in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The 2014 Winter Games are set for Feb. 7-23 in Sochi, Russia. The 2018 Winter Olympics were awarded to Pyeongchang, South Korea.