SBD/June 20, 2013/Olympics

Scott Blackmun Says IOC Presidential Election Likely To Have Impact On USOC

Blackmun said it is going to be very difficult financially for any city to host Games
USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said his organization is "looking forward to working with whoever" wins the upcoming IOC presidential election, according to a recent Q&A conducted by Philip Hersh of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. The following are excerpts from the interview:

Q: Does the result of the IOC presidential election make a difference to the USOC?
Blackmun: I’m sure it will. We just don’t know which way. I’m sure the six candidates would bring different things to the table in terms of leadership and programs. We don’t have a vote as a National Olympic Committee and are looking forward to working with whoever gets that position.

Q: The USOC is seeking cities interested in a possible bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics. It would seem a Winter Games are A) easier to get, because the number of potential host countries is more limited by topography and weather; and B) much less of an organizational and financial challenge for a host city. Why did the USOC decide to concentrate on a summer bid?
Blackmun: I think you are right on both those counts. There are less countries that can host the Winter Games; because of that, your odds are better. I also think we have a lot of infrastructure in place to host a Winter Games. But I think our ability to inspire Americans and engage the whole country in sport is much higher in a Summer Games than a Winter Games. That was the feeling of our board.

Q: Given the cost of new facilities, do you think the IOC would agree with the idea of using relatively close existing facilities -- such as the Salt Lake bobsled track for a Denver or Reno-Tahoe Olympics?
Blackmun: I don’t know what the IOC will do, but I do know it is going to be very difficult for any American city standing alone to be able to afford the (Summer or Winter) Games. We think it is important to look at our next bid more broadly as a national bid and see if we can get state and federal support -- not necessarily financial support.

Q: What kind of support?
Blackmun: A guarantee, which wouldn’t be an appropriation unless there was some type of operating shortfall. And infrastructure support, in terms of airports and roads.

Q: When will you decide about whether to make a 2024 bid, which seems more and more likely?
Blackmun: In late 2014.

Q: If a 2024 bid were to fail, would it be too late to make a bid for the 2026 Winter Games?
Blackmun: We would not rule out a 2026 bid if we lose 2024, but the timing would be tight. (For example: the vote for 2020 Summer Games host is Sept. 7; the 2022 Winter Games bid deadline is Nov. 14.) (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 6/19).
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