- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 14, 2001

Reaction around the world was decidedly mixed to Beijing winning the right to play host to the 2008 Summer Olympics, even in China. But the U.S. Olympic Committee and eight American cities, including Washington, seeking to play host in 2012 universally cheered the controversial decision.
Their reasoning veered way clear of tense debates on China's human rights policies, or lack thereof, and focused squarely on geography. By not selecting Toronto thought by many to have a technically superior bid for 2008 the International Olympic Committee left open the possibility of a North America-hosted Summer Olympics in 2012.
Since 1952, two Summer Olympics have been held on the same continent only as close as eight years apart. Because of that, the selection of Toronto would have set back efforts for a fifth American Summer Olympics until at least 2016.
"We're obviously excited about this decision, both for Beijing and for us," said Dan Knise, executive director of the Chesapeake Region 2012 Coalition, the group behind Washington and Baltimore's joint bid. "This clears the path for us, and I really do think we're up next. It's very invigorating, and for us, it simply means we'll keep working full steam ahead."
While the landslide decision for Beijing keeps the USOC's 2012 efforts alive, it also means Toronto again will be a competitive force. IOC siting decisions historically have favored repeat bidders.
Beijing narrowly lost out to Sydney for the 2000 Summer Olympics. Salt Lake City, host of the 2002 Winter Olympics; Athens, host of the 2004 Summer Olympics; and Barcelona, host of the 1992 Summer Olympics, all similarly prevailed only after first falling short with IOC voters.
Leaders for the Canadian bid are already looking to bid again for 2012. It will be the third bid for the Ontario city, which also lost out to Atlanta for the 1996 Summer Olympics.
"If I had the ability right now, I'd say go for 2012, but we've got to have time to think," Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman said in Moscow. Lastman's recent and ill-advised comments about traveling to Kenya he feared "being in a pot of boiling water with all these natives dancing around me" brought Toronto a wave of negative publicity.
Even with Toronto in the running, USOC officials remain confident that one of the eight U.S. bidders Washington/Baltimore; Dallas; Houston; New York; Cincinnati; Tampa, Fla.; Los Angeles; and San Francisco will play host to the 2012 Games.
"It's going to be some time before we really know in what form Toronto will be back," USOC spokesman Mike Moran said. "It's costly to keep going again and again, and their leadership may very well be different up there next time. But the point for us is that between the resources and knowledge base we have, we feel we can trot out a bid that will win."
Also likely competing for 2012 will be Istanbul, Paris and Osaka, Japan, all finalists for 2008, as well as London, Madrid and Moscow.
The USOC will name its single domestic nominee next fall. The IOC picks the 2012 host in 2005. NBC's role as the U.S. television rights holder and key revenue source for the IOC also could play a role. Assuming it extends its contract with the IOC when the current pact expires following the Beijing Games, the network likely will want to air live competition in prime time again for American audiences.
The network attracted many critics for its decision to tape delay its coverage last fall in Sydney. Time differences will continue to be in play. Athens is seven hours ahead of the American East Coast, and Beijing is 12 hours ahead.
In the meantime, a USOC site selection team is conducting tours of the eight American bidders this summer. Washington and Baltimore were first up, with an eight-person team spending three days in the area last month. The group also has been to Dallas.
"Toronto was superbly well prepared to host these Games," said John Lucas, retired Penn State University professor and Olympic historian. "But I honestly don't know whether they really will come back [for 2012]. I predict they will ultimately just let it go. Either way, the Beijing decision certainly forwarded the chance of the USOC winning next time."

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