The news that Los Angeles is to enter the competition to be the US candidate to host the 2024 Olympic Games is likely to shorten the odds on an American success and add a little zip into a bidding process which is felt to have become a little flat.
The USOC decided not to submit a bid for the 2022 Games leaving Doha, Madrid, Baku, Istanbul and Tokyo to fight it out. With Doha and Baku failing to make it to the second round, the IOC will, in September, choose between only three cities.
Although Chicago – humiliated by coming last in the bidding for 2016 – has decided not to go again, Los Angeles is a definite contender for the US nomination while New York, Dallas and a handful of other cities are likely to make it a hard-fought internal competition which could well produce the winning candidate.
The City of Angeles staged the Olympic Games in 1932 and again in 1984 when the IOC was struggling to find a city willing to host its showpiece event. Despite a boycott by the USSR and some of its allies, the Games was a success on many levels - not least in its commercial success which proved it was possible to stage a Games without making a whopping loss and creating massive public debt.
This, coupled with the fact that the USA was for many years by far and away the biggest source of commercial and media revenue for the IOC, made for a special relationship between the IOC and United States Olympic Committee but it was a relationship which was to turn sour in a series of disputes over revenue sharing.
The issues were finally resolved last year and a declaration of peace issued during SportAccord in Quebec. But that was too late for Chicago whose bid is widely thought to have suffered as a result of the dispute which some believe made the contest simply unwinnable for any US city. Now the way is clear and cities from sea to shining sea are rising to the challenge.
USOC chief executive Scott wrote to 35 cities and appears pleased by the response.
“We've gotten a handful of really positive responses and a handful of, 'gee thanks for asking but this isn't the right fit for us'. We are pleased with the level of interest people have shown but we also want to respect the rights of cities to engage in this process quietly if this is what they elect to do so,” he said.
“We're going to continue informal discussions with any and all interested cities this year. Then sometime early next year we hope to be working with a shortlist of cities, two maybe three talking about the details of what a bid might look like with the view of being in a position by the end of 2014 to make a decision.”
By 2024, it will have been nearly three decades since the US hosted the Summer Games and all else -including the implications of the nation’ foreign policy decisions – being equal, it is likely that there will be a positive response in many parts of the IOC. Both Los Angeles and New York are iconic world class cities which have the potential to boost Brand Olympic in the way that London did last year.
The presence of either of these metropolises or any one of a handful of other major US cities could work in one of two ways. While some observers hark back to the 2012 battle- which feared New York, Paris, Madrid and Moscow as well as London – and predict that that a US candidate will restore the lustre of the competition, others take the opposite view and worry that a growing expectation of a US victory could persuade possible challengers to keep their powder try until they have a clearer path to the wining post.