U.S. cities seeking Olympics
Houston, New York, San Francisco and Washington in hunt for 2012 Summer Games.
February 22, 2002: 1:43 p.m. ET
By Staff Writer Chris Isidore

graphic SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (CNN/Money) - Salt Lake City was home to more than the Winter Olympics the past two weeks - it was also the center of multi-million dollar efforts of four U.S. cities to win the Summer Games in 2012.

This November the U.S. Olympic Committee will choose among the four - Houston, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. - to see which will be the nation's candidate for the 2012. A choice on the host city is not due from the International Olympic Committee until 2005.

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Representative from the cities all have projections showing how the multi-billion dollar budget for hosting the games in their cities could turn a profit with little or no local tax money. And all four cities as well as USOC officials believe that the IOC will be ready to return to the United States for the ninth time as soon as 2012.

IOC President Jacques Rogge would like to see one of the two Summer Olympics awarded during his tenure go to Africa.
"Much of the money generated in the Olympic movement comes from the United States," said USOC spokesman Bob Condron. "I think they realize that we're a very important national Olympic committee. We help fund the IOC and the Olympic movement. It's important for the American public and TV audience that the games make a regular return to the U.S."

Competitors for the 2012 Games are not yet set, but Paris, Toronto, Osaka, Japan, and Istanbul, which all lost out to Bejing for the 2008 Olympics, are likely to make new attempts. South Africa, Brazil and Russia are weighing bids this time as well.

Most of the cities say they're well positioned in terms of having their sporting facilities well in place for the games, which they said should be an advantage when lobbying for the games.

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    "In 2004 the games are going to Athens and it's going to be challenging," said Susan Bandy, president of Houston 2012 Foundation, referring to reports that organizers there are behind schedule in preparation. "In 2005 the IOC is going to be very risk averse. They're going to want to see that whatever city is awarded 2012 is ready to be a host."

    There will be members of the 130-member IOC who believe other countries and continents should get Olympics before they return to North America. There have been four U.S. Olympics and one in Canada since 1980, and Vancouver, British Columbia, is a candidate for the 2010 Winter Olympics, which is due to be awarded next year.

    Meanwhile South America and Africa have never hosted an Olympics, and will never have a realistic chance to host a Winter Games. IOC President Jacques Rogge has stated he wants to see Africa get an Olympics before he leaves office, and 2012 will be one of only two Summer Games awarded on his watch.

    None of the cities have had a chance to even talk to IOC members. The bribery scandal around the awarding of the 2002 Games to Salt Lake City has put strict rules on the conduct of the four committees. They can only contact the USOC until it makes the final cut in November, and the cities must keep record of every conversation with a USOC member.

    Houston 2012 President Susan Bandy and her counterparts in San Francisco, New York and Washington were all in Salt Lake City for the Winter Olympics.
    "We have very strict rules about what we can and can't do in terms of the USOC. What we can't do right now is lobby," said Bandy. "The odds are that if the rules had not been changed, all the cities would be talking to the IOC to get it to influence the USOC."

    All four cities are also under strict orders not to criticize the other U.S. cities' bids. And Houston and San Francisco and to some extent Washington find themselves in the somewhat uncomfortable position of competing against New York, which has become somewhat of a emotional choice since the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.

    "We all feel a lot of sympathy for New York," said Anne Cribbs, CEO of the Bay Area Sports Organizing Committee. "Even having said that, I'm confident USOC will follow a process that started 2-1/2 years ago. They want to pick the best city that has the best plans for the best Olympic games."

    Before the IOC even considers the 2012 Summer Olympics, it will decide on the 2010 Winter Games.

    Eight candidates are vying for the 2010 games, including Vancouver and Sarajevo, site of the 1984 Winter Games which has been ravaged by war much of the time since those games.

    Four of the other cities competing for the games - Salzburg, Austria, Bern, Switzerland, Jaca, Spain and Andorra, a small mountain country between Spain and France - could have their chances hurt by the continent's hosting of the next two games - Athens in 2004 and Torino, Italy in 2006.

    Similarly Harbin, China, is not likely to get the 2010 games following the 2008 Summer Olympics being held in Beijing Games. The final 2010 candidate is Pyeongchang, South Korea. graphic