July 3 - The United States look almost certain to launch a bid for the 2024 Summer Olympic and Paralympics after a move to try to host the 2022 Winter Games was definitively ruled out.
The decision was taken by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Board of Directors at a meeting today.
An American bid for the Games became imminent in May this year when the USOC finally reached an agreement with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) over their high-profile revenue-sharing dispute.
The dispute had caused New York's bid for the 2012 Games and Chicago's bid for the 2016 Games to falter embarrassingly.
But, after the a new revenue-sharing deal was reached during SportAccord in Quebec City, it appeared to be a question of whether America would bid for the 2022 or 2024 Olympics and Paralympics.
And the USOC appear to have revealed their hand by ruling out a bid for the 2022 Winter Games, which in any case would be far less lucrative to the United States that a bid for the 2024 Summer Games.
While the USOC refused to commit to a bid for 2024, saying that they are looking at "both 2024 and 2026", it is now highly likely that they will put all their efforts into a Summer bid, which would be a formidable prospect for all other bidders.
"Hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games in the United States is of paramount importance to us," said USOC chief executive Scott Blackman following the Board meeting.
"We want to submit a bid that is viable and that adds value to the worldwide Olympic Movement."
The decision will be a blow to several cities in the US who had already begun preparing bids for 2022.
They included Denver, Reno-Tahoe and Salt Lake City, the hosts of the 2002 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
"We believe a 2024 or 2026 bid will give us the best chance of achieving those ends and therefore we will not submit a bid to host the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games," said Blackmun.
"We are firmly committed to submitting the most viable Candidate City possible and to making a meaningful contribution to the worldwide Olympic and Paralympic Movements.
"We believe that exploring a bid for the 2024 or 2026 Games will give us the greatest opportunity for success."
USOC chairman Larry Probst revealed that the next phase of the process will be establishing a Board working group that will be charged with the task of exploring a potential US bid for either the 2024 or 2026.
"We haven't yet decided on the composition of the working group or how many people will be involved but that is something Scott and I will do shortly," Probst explained.
"It will be made up entirely of USOC Board members who have a strong knowledge of this process.
"We believe all of the members in that group will be in London for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics which will be a highly valuable learning opportunity.
"The group will then make its initial report to the full USOC Board at our meeting in December and we will carry on from there."
Although a bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics and Paralympics is not unfeasible, it is highly unlikely given that there will be much greater financial benefits for the USOC and its stakeholders in bidding for the Summer event in 2024.
The speculation as to which where the American bid will come from will now begin with the likes of New York, Chicago, Dallas and Philadelphia just some of the cities likely to put their name forward to the USOC to host the event.
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