Friday, April 13, 2007

USOC Set To Pick 2016 Olympic Bidder

Saturday, the United States Olympic Committee will choose their 2016 Olympic bid candidate from Chicago or Los Angeles.

They say they that processes are in place to make the competition constructive, credible and fair. They say that they will watch presentations, look at scores from several technical categories and then vote for the best bid. That's what they say.

Unfortunately since San Francisco is no longer in the running after being forced to withdraw from the competition when stadium plans fell apart - the USOC won't be able to correct their error from 2002, when they selected New York to represent the United States for the 2012 bid. Back then, selection committee chair Charles Moore surprised the electorate with a controversial last minute twist - he told them to disregard San Francisco's biggest strength - a large project surplus. New York won.

Although the USOC later vowed to "reform" the process - now that we're approaching election hour there doesn't seem to be much change for the better. The media are being kept away from key last minute presentations and meetings even though the International Olympic Committee allows full exposure of these events in the "real" 2016 election. You could argue that the USOC wants to keep the secrets of its winning bid under wraps to maintain a competitive advantage over their international competitors; or you could conclude that they don't want the general public second-guessing their decision. Maybe it's a bit of both.

I want to see the presentations because I want to know how Los Angeles will convince anyone that they deserve to host for the 3rd time. Yes, London just recently won the rights to host for a 3rd time - but the last time was in 1948 when they were the only viable post-war option. Los Angeles hosted only 23 years ago, recently enough for many Olympic fans to clearly recall.

If they win the domestic bid, the question will come up over and over - "why a 3rd time?"

It will become annoying and tiresome for the bid committee to answer. And its something that can't be fixed and won't go away. Los Angeles will need a good answer.

For that reason, Chicago should win. They have two years to market their bid and resolve any issues. Chicago's bid is a fresh, new concept - a clean palette on which to paint a potential winner. There is no baggage.

But it doesn't matter what I think. Tomorrow the USOC will figure out a way to make a decision and then they'll tell the world. Then the world will ask, "why a third time"?

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