(ATR)Pat Ryan, who led the Chicago 2016 Olympic bid effort, offers his advice to the U.S. Olympic Committee about the city's ill-fated bid.
Meeting in Chicagolast week, the USOC board heard from Ryan for about 15 minutes as part of its due diligence for a possible bid for the 2024 Games.
USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said Ryan talked about "lessons learned" in addition to giving advice.
"I think Pat’s overriding message was that the bid was really good for the city of Chicago, notwithstanding their obvious disappointment at the result," Blackmun said, referring to the first-round exit. "When you look at the legacy that the bid left behind with World Sport Chicago, I think he is proud of what he was able to accomplish. He’s grateful for the friendships that he made within the IOC and strongly encouraged us to move forward with the bid if we thought it was an environment where we could win."
Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington are the four cities the USOC is evaluating, "each of whom we think would do a fantastic job," Blackmun said.
However he stressed that the board’s in-depth discussion was not a commitment, but "a recognition that we wouldn’t have invested the time and the money that we have on the process so far unless there was a real desire on our part to bring the Games back to the United States."
The USOC has said that it will not make a decision until after the IOC discusses changes to the bid process during its Agenda 2020 meetings in Monaco in December.
"They could say we’re going to wait another year, we’re going to shorten the (bid) period," Blackmun said. "And if we have another year in which to decide, we may take advantage of that year."
He said the USOC needs to undertake an analysis of the IOC as far as "What we do think the IOC’s appetite for an American bid is? We certainly don’t want to waste anybody’s time, but if in our judgment there is a strong appetite for not just an American bid candidacy, but for America to host the Games, then we’re going to take a very, very hard look at that. If the [IOC] president were to come out and say he doesn’t support an American bid, we would give a lot of weight to that, but that’s not what he said so far."
White House Involvement
President Obama and wife Michelle both addressed the IOC in Copenhagen five years ago in support of Chicago. A new president will be in the White House during the potential 2024 bid process.
"We’re hopeful, irrespective of who the president is, that we would have the support," Blackmun said, "not necessarily financial support from the government, but support because of what it means for the American public. There’s a whole generation of Americans who won’t have been able to go to the Games in the United Statesand we think that will resonate with whoever is next in the White House."
Blackmun said the USOC has been in communication with people on Capitol Hill and in the White House to keep them informed. "They’re keeping an eye on it, but it’s not something that we’re briefing them on a weekly basis on," he said.
While the next US president will be in office when the IOC votes for the 2024 host city, the current Obama administration will have to be involved in some manner for the early stages of the contest, which begins in mid 2015.
Factors for Cities
The four potential 2024 cities must have a financially sound plan, with a reasonable level of expenses in mind and ways to generate revenue to cover those expenses, Blackmun said.
The cities also must have a narrative that will be compelling to the IOC and the global Olympic Movement.
"We have to be able to talk about the reason that having the Games in the United States is not only in the interest of our city and our country but frankly the whole Olympic Movement," Blackmun said, "so the more that a city can make a credible argument that this is good for everybody, the more weight that we can give them."
Supporting Other Events
Following the Chicago 2016 loss, the USOC understood it had to become a more active and engaged participant in the worldwide Olympic movement.
Blackmun said this meant not only attending events, but actually hosting events.
The USOC has invited all PASO countries to another best practices seminar in Miami in December.
He said the USOC will be "very, very supportive" of Eugene, Oregon, in its bid for the 2019 IAAF World Championships. The host city will be decided in November.
"We would very much like to assist Vin Lananna and his team and USA Track & Field in their efforts to bring the World Championships to Eugene," Blackmun said. "We think it would help grow the sport of track and field in the United States."
The USOC has also given a letter of support to Birmingham, Alabama, in its efforts to land the 2021 World Games, which includes non-Olympic sports.
"The World Games is one step removed from our Olympic family here, but we’re also supportive of what they’re trying to achieve and frankly glad that they’re doing it, because I think it’s just an indication that there is a passion for sport in the United States," said Blackmun, who has been to Birmingham and talked to organizers. "We pledge to help wherever we can. But because our mission ties back to sustained competitive excellence of our Olympic and Paralympic athletes, I don’t anticipate that we’ll provide any financial support for that bid or those Games."
Written and reported in Chicago by Karen Rosen.