The board of the U.S. Olympic Committee will meet in Florida later this month and decide whether to pursue a 2026 or 2024 Summer Olympics — the first non-U.S. team to be awarded the Games in 30 years.
Recent history reveals that by the time of the board’s final vote, things could have changed.
In 2004, China won the right to host the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
In 2009, Russia was awarded the 2018 Summer Olympics in Sochi.
In 2011, Athens was awarded the 2020 Summer Olympics.
At the time of the first Olympics awarded to China, Greece was ranked first in the Olympics calendar, and The 2008 Beijing Olympics will stand as the largest-grossing Olympics in history.
Over the last several years, bids by several other countries have come up short, most notably Tokyo, which hosted the 1964 Games. Had it won the Games, Japan would have become the first Asian country to host a Summer Olympics. The vast majority of Japan’s population was on the brink of starvation in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, and many still lived in slums without running water or running-water supplies.
In recent weeks, the Olympic board gave four presentations, allowing elected officials in each of the cities to make final pitches in the hopes of winning the nod. Though there were 10 competing cities for the 2024 Games, there were eight spots available for a 2026 bid, but no city bid at the time.
Why vote now? What’s going on? Is there an Olympic conspiracy?
Let’s break down the expected results and see if we can glean a clear picture of what happens when officials of the USOC and the International Olympic Committee sit down in Florida this month.
The end result is pretty much a guarantee. Although there are enough time remaining to back away, history is not on the side of a different outcome.
The race is pretty much over, because so many cities have already passed on hosting the event.
There are 10 finalists in the running for 2024.
By the time the USOC gets to May, there will be only three cities remaining standing. If the vote is held this month, Paris, Los Angeles and Budapest are the favorites. It’s still possible for one of the three to go down in flames, but there would be one third of the process done and left open by then.
The 2026 hosts are likely to include Toronto, Durban, Cambodia and Paris.
Sports fans outside the United States tend to understand the intricacies of the Olympic process, which is why they’re often surprised when the U.S. won the bid.
The world, however, has seen the rules and declared that these games are a way for the Olympics to keep an eye on growth and attract new markets.
Also, the post-Budapest 2016 Games got some bad publicity when Sebastian Coe, president of the International Association of Athletics Federations, drew a comparison between his native country and now-outlawed neo-Nazi groups. Coe said in the wake of the Hungary’s decision to exit the Olympics, that the decision made the Games “less attractive to local partners.” Coe later apologized and kept his job.
He also attributed the negativity to people who are jealous of other countries holding the games.
If an American bid were to fail this time around, we’d be in bad shape, because that means a country that once hosted is going to set records as least to get the Games. However, we would do the right thing and secure the rights to 2026.
Once that’s secured, the USOC can select another city, and that city can prepare a competitive bid. The only question is whether a candidate city wants to make the fight. It’s possible that cities will not make the step if they find out that they could be badly defeated.
At this point, with five cities listed as the likely choices, the USOC can simply choose one and call it a day.
We would rather lose another battle than pick the loser.