The U.S. Olympic Committee pared its list of possible hosts for the 2024 Olympics on Tuesday, and expects to use the next seven months to decide whether to bid.
After the board's quarterly meeting, chairman Larry Probst said the USOC would take this week to contact cities that had expressed interest in a possible bid. He declined to say which cities were still in the running.
Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston and Washington were among those that had been receiving serious consideration. Probst said earlier the USOC wanted to trim to two or three cities but wouldn't get specific about the number Tuesday.
The last U.S. city that bid for the Olympics was Chicago, which finished last in the voting for the 2016 Games. Since then, the USOC has been on a mission to rebuild its international reputation. Among factors that point toward a successful bid are the USOC's recent restructuring of a contentious revenue-sharing deal with the IOC and the IOC's recent $7.75 billion extension of its TV deal with its favorite American partner, NBC.
Still, the IOC holds all the cards in the bidding process and can capitalize on a U.S. candidacy in a number of ways, including as a tool to generate more interest in the bidding process. Probst said before the USOC commits to a bid, members want to see what changes the International Olympic Committee makes to the hosting requirements. New IOC President Thomas Bach has asked the board to work on an Olympic roadmap through 2020.
"Until the process plays itself out, given that it could significantly impact how the selection is made, we're not going to make our decision," CEO Scott Blackmun said. The IOC will pick its 2024 host in 2017.
Unlike the domestic process that led to Chicago's failed 2016 bid, this process has been deliberatively secretive. Blackmun described that strategy as an effort to spark more candid conversations between the cities and the USOC, and also as a way of keeping costs down. The domestic stage of Chicago's bid cost the city about $10 million.
The cost of staging an Olympics is supposed to be $6 billion to $9 billion, though those numbers rarely hold up. The total price tag on this year's Sochi Games was $51 billion. London's expenses totaled about $15 billion for the 2012 Games.
Blackmun rejected the theory that spiraling costs were turning the Olympics into events that few countries want to host. The race for the 2022 Olympics has been sullied by cities pulling out of the running or expressing deep concerns. Currently, Almaty, Kazahkstan; Beijing; Lviv, Ukraine; and Oslo, Norway are the candidates. Bids from Oslo and Lviv are both in limbo.
"If we were sitting here with no cities interested in bidding, I'd take the (theory) more seriously," Blackmun said of the 2024 contest. "But we've got a lot of cities that are very, very interested in doing this."
Meanwhile, Probst has made some waves with comments suggesting the IOC executive board should determine Olympic hosts instead of the full committee. Asked to expand on those comments Tuesday, Probst said: "Upon further thinking about it, it might not be such a terrible idea to have the executive board get it down to a few cities, then put the vote to the full membership."