Tom Degun: Good times ahead for the USOC

Friday, 21 December 2012
Tom Degun ITG2One of the hot topics in the Olympic Movement right now is what Olympic and Paralympic Games the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) will bid for.

A bid is now imminent; the only question is whether America will bid for the 2024 Summer Games or 2026 Winter Games. The smart money would be on 2024 for the obvious reason that the Summer Olympics and Paralympics are far more prominent and lucrative than their Winter counterpart.

But even so, the USOC will give nothing away, and nor do they have to until the bidding begins in 2015.

Yesterday the USOC Board of Directors met at the Electronic Arts headquarters in Redwood City, California. As has now become customary such Board meeting, USOC chairman Larry Probst and chief executive Scott Blackmun held a teleconference for the media afterwards.

Like all the previous USOC teleconferences I have dialled in for this year, Probst and Blackmun were most cordial but quickly made it clear that both 2024 and 2026 were both still very much on the table.
 
Blackmun and ProbstUSOC chairman Larry Probst (right) and chief executive Scott Blackmun (left) have not yet decided if America will bid for the Olympics and Paralympics in 2024 or 2026

Other than the unanimous re-election of Probst, which should help speed up his International Olympic Committee (IOC) membership, the headline news was that the USOC will start meeting with cities across America next year that are interested in hosting either Games.

"Our message is that we want to talk to anybody that wants to talk to us about a bid and we will provide more details on that process early next year," explained Blackmun, in a move that is certain to spark a flurry of activity across the United States.

"Even with a 2024 bid, we still have until 2015 until we need to make a firm decide so we definitely have time on our side. I don't think we will have made any final decision on a bid, even by next year, but we want to be more informed and smarter by the end of 2013 than we are at the beginning."

The fact of the matter is that so many cities America are capable of hosting a great Games. New York City, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and Philadelphia are just some of the cities likely to put their name forward for 2024 with Denver, Reno-Tahoe and Salt Lake City set to do the same for 2026.

Once a city is chosen, regardless of who stands in their way internationally, the United States look very difficult to beat. This is largely due to the fact that the USOC, mainly thanks to the impressive efforts of Blackmun, managed to settle their high profile revenue-sharing dispute with the IOC following years of negotiations.

That announcement was made at the 2012 Sport Accord Convention in Québec City in May. I remember well a smiling Probst at that press conference in Canada saying that the deal had "removed a roadblock from a successful bid from the United States."

IOC President Jacques Rogge, who sat next to Probst in that press conference, looked equally pleased.
 
Probst with RoggeUSOC chairman Larry Probst (left) and IOC President Jacques Rogge (right) are on excellent terms after the two organisations settled their revenue-sharing dispute this year

"This is a very happy moment for the IOC and the USOC," said Rogge. "The USOC is an absolutely crucial pillar in the Olympic Movement. This agreement lays a cornerstone which will provide the foundations for the continued growth of the Movement and our shared values, not just in the United States but around the world."

To illustrate how problematic the dispute was; it saw New York City's bid for 2012 Games eliminated in the second round of IOC voting and then Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics humiliated in the first round.

I remember well the visit I made to Chicago during their 2016 bid and being very impressed by plans. In terms of technical quality, it was absolutely superb and only politics saw it meet such a sad end.

Chicago will surely not suffer the same fate if returns to bid for 2024.
 
Chicago 2016Chicago are likely to attempt to bid for the 2024 Olympics and Paralympics having missed out in 2016

Another factor that makes it so strong is that the vast majority of money for the Olympics comes from the United States. American television network giant NBC are the big financial backer of the Games with McDonalds, Coca-Cola and indeed the majority of IOC Top Partners hailing from US shores.

People will say that the Games must to go to new parts. Indeed it must, and it will. But at the same time, the IOC will be careful to recognise the "crucial pillar" of the Olympic Movement that is the USOC. They can't afford to do otherwise.

So come 2024 or 2026, you would do well not to look much further than America and now -in a break with recent years - good times now lie ahead for the USOC.

Tom Degun is a reporter for insidethegames
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