Denver just might host a Winter Games

By Eddie Pells
AP National Writer

LONDON – U.S. Olympic leaders and their athletes are having such a great time at the London Games, they’d like to host a party like this, too, someday soon.

“We think the Games need to come to America, and the sooner, the better,” Larry Probst, chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee, said Saturday at a news conference.

When the team returns home, a USOC panel will look into whether the federation should bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics or the 2026 Winter Games. The United States hasn’t hosted the Olympics since the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City and hasn’t hosted a Summer Olympics since 1996 in Atlanta.

USOC chief exeutive officer Scott Blackmun noted Britain was in third place in the gold-medal count with 26 – part of its best medal haul since the 1908 London Olympics. He acknowledged that competing on home turf can provide the home country’s athletes with a huge boost.

“It really gives the athletes life,” Blackmun said. “We expect Brazil will have quite a few athletes that will rise to the podium and have lifetime bests” in four years at the Rio Games.

“It’s a fact of life in the Olympic world,” Blackmun said. “It’s one of the reasons we’d like to host the Games in the U.S. in the not-too-distant future.”

America’s last two bid cities – New York for 2012 and Chicago for 2016 – roundly were rejected by the International Olympic Committee. The USOC decided to pass on bidding for the 2020 Games while it shored up its international relationships and resolved its long-running feud with the IOC about revenue sharing.

Earlier this summer, the revenue issue was resolved, and the USOC got serious about getting into the bid game again. The bid committee is expected to give its first report to the full USOC board at its quarterly meeting in December.

Possible winter cities would include Denver, Bozeman, Mont., and Lake Tahoe. Summer candidates could include New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco.

“We’d like to pull off a Games just the way London did,” Blackmun said. “We need to talk about, should it be ’24, should it be ’26, what kind of city should we look at? But we definitely look at this experience as something we’d aspire to.”

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