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“If we got serious about it, we’d have to really weigh what is it that we are going to do with the Olympics that we won’t do otherwise in the city.”

Leaders of other jurisdictions would have to weigh similar dilemmas. The DC 2024 plan to incorporate Maryland and Virginia along with the District would spread the costs around, but would also add layers of bureaucratic approval for anything involving public funding.

Sweeney hasn’t begun to project the big-picture costs of a potential winning bid, but his goal for DC 2024 is to raise $3 million-$5 million from private donors over the next two years just to make the cut as the U.S. candidate. Other domestic cities already exploring 2024 bids include two-time Summer Games host Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco and Tulsa, Okla.

The last two U.S. cities put forth as potential hosts — New York for the 2012 Games and Chicago for 2016 — have shown no indications of getting back in the Olympic ring. The USOC did not bid to host the 2020 Games, which will be awarded next weekend to Tokyo, Madrid or Istanbul.

By 2024, it will have been nearly 30 years since the Atlanta Olympics and more than 20 years since the Salt Lake City Winter Games, leaving the U.S. in prime position for another hosting slot. But when it comes to the IOC and the selection process, it’s anyone’s guess what might happen.

It has been 11 years since a joint Washington-Baltimore bid fell short of even U.S. finalist status for the 2012 Games, but plenty has changed in the area since then with the opening of a new D.C. convention center and Nationals Park, a proposed D.C. United stadium and pending Silver Line Metro service to Dulles Airport.

Sweeney hopes those improvements and the cachet of the backdrop Washington provides will be enough to put the area over the top this time, but he’s also realistic about the challenges that lie ahead.

“There are priorities that are much more important than the Olympic Games, and those conversations need to all be tempered and prioritized as we go down this pathway,” Sweeney said. “That’s why we’ve actually formed this exploratory committee, is to actually create that space for that dialogue and have those conversations. … This is an important conversation to have and we don’t know all the answers.”

Andrea Noble contributed