MONACO, Monaco - With the IOC's new bidding process now in place, the race for the 2024 Olympics is primed to take off.
The U.S. Olympic Committee will make a decision next week on whether to bid and may even select a city to put forward, making a choice among Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington.
"We're not in it to come in fourth, third or second," USOC chairman Larry Probst said Tuesday, setting the stage for a contest that could also include Paris, Rome, Berlin or Hamburg and other cities.
The 2024 campaign is ready to move forward after the International Olympic Committee approved a raft of changes Monday that include a revised process designed to make bidding less expensive and more attractive to potential candidates.
The new system includes an "invitation phase" where interested countries and cities discuss their plans with the IOC in advance of bidding to tailor the project to their own needs and conditions.
"I don't think it has much of an impact on our process," Probst said. "I don't think any of these reforms have a significant impact on bidding or not bidding."
IOC President Thomas Bach said Tuesday the invitation phase will begin on Jan. 15, eight months before the Sept. 15 deadline for declaration of bids.
Bach said the IOC will contact all national Olympic committees interested in bidding. Meetings will be arranged in Lausanne, Switzerland, or in the potential bid cities.
"It's not an evaluation," Bach said. "It will be up to these potential candidate cities to raise the topics they think are worthwhile. Our delegation will listen and give them any advice."
Bach again ruled out reopening the bidding for the 2002 Winter Games. Scared off by high costs and other factors, several cities pulled out, leaving only Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan, in the running.
Canadian member Dick Pound said the former candidates should be given the chance to rejoin the race under the new bidding rules. But Bach said it would be unfair to the two remaining contenders.
"It's like a 10,000-meter race," Bach said. "If you pull out after five laps, you can't expect that the race will be started again."
One thing is already certain for 2024: The Peruvian capital of Lima beat out Helsinki on Tuesday for the right to host the IOC session in 2017 where the vote will be held.
Germany has already announced it will be bidding, with a choice between Berlin and Hamburg to be made in March. Italy is expected to announce a Rome bid on Monday. France is likely to approve a Paris bid next month.
Other potential contenders include Doha, Qatar; Istanbul, Turkey; Baku, Azerbaijan; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Budapest, Hungary; and a city or region in South Africa.
The United States hasn't hosted the Summer Games since 1996 in Atlanta. New York made a failed bid for the 2012 Olympics, and Chicago missed out for 2016.
"That's 28 years," Probst said. "That's more than a generation. That's a long time to not have the games in the United States."
Probst said he spoke with Bach and other IOC members in Monaco who encouraged the U.S. to submit a 2024 bid.
"It's more along the lines of it's time for the U.S. to bid and if you have a strong bid with a high-quality leadership team, good venue plan and all the other elements that are important to the membership, you have an opportunity to compete and hopefully compete successfully," he said.
The USOC board will meet in California on Dec. 16 to decide whether to bid after listening to presentations from all four cities. The board could decide to choose a candidate city right away or wait a month or two.
"If we decide to move forward with a bid next week, I would say within 30-60 days we would probably select a city, but we could get to that next week as well," Probst said.
The new IOC rules allow for events to be held outside host cities and countries in exceptional cases.
"I don't think the notion that you could have venues in two different cities is really applicable to a U.S. bid, so I don't think it advantages us or disadvantages us," Probst said.
Los Angeles is seeking to host the Olympics for a third time after staging the games in 1932 and 1984.
"I think some people think it's a pro, some people feel it's a con," Probst said. "They've got facilities in place, they've done it before, but you hear some members say 'been there, done that,' so that's one of the things we have to consider."
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