- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 27, 2001

The joint bid by Washington and Baltimore to play host to the 2012 Summer Olympics cleared the U.S. Olympic Committee's first cutdown of domestic candidates yesterday.
The two cities, along with New York, San Francisco and Houston, will remain under USOC consideration until the organizing body picks its single nominee in November 2002. Eliminated from the competition were two-time Olympic host Los Angeles, Tampa, Fla., Dallas and Cincinnati. The unanimous vote was conducted earlier this week by a 12-member USOC review panel and announced yesterday in Salt Lake City, site of the 2002 Winter Olympics.
The Chesapeake Region 2012 Coalition, organizers of the unique two-city bid, appears to have found favor with the USOC for its cultural heritage, vast experience playing host to international events, large number of existing sporting facilities and regional approach that proposes to stretch Olympic events from Northern Virginia to Baltimore to Annapolis. The bid also includes proposed joint opening ceremonies on Washington's Mall and at Baltimore's Inner Harbor, bucking Olympic tradition for stadium-bound ceremonies.
But the bid now is back to square one, competing with no carried-over advantage in the next USOC round against three other U.S. cities instead of seven.
"This is a very significant milestone for us, but a lot of work still lies ahead," said Dan Knise, CRC executive director. "This is a real step forward in that we clearly passed the first cut, but it is also a symbolic step. Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia are open for business, and this shows we can rise above what happened [Sept. 11]."
After the USOC picks its domestic candidate, the International Olympic Committee will conduct a global review and select the 2012 host in the fall of 2005. Expected in the global competition are failed 2008 bidders Toronto and Paris, as well as Madrid, Istanbul and Rio de Janeiro.
While the USOC remains bullish on the prospect of having the Games in America, the Salt Lake Olympics will be the fourth in the United States since 1980, making another in the United States so soon an iffy prospect.
Charles Moore, chairman of the USOC's bid evaluation task force, said the eight U.S. cities were not ranked against one another but rather independently on 13 criteria ranging from venues, finance and transportation to security and cultural outreach.
"This has been an inspiring journey," Moore said. "Each city is better from the process, and so is the USOC."
Washington and Baltimore making the first cut had been generally expected since Moore stated that the local bid "raised the bar" for the others to match following a site visit in June. USOC officials try to be as a vague as possible publicly about its site evaluations, and Moore laid praise on the other cities. But the comment still sent a message on the quality of the local bid.
Like the other bidding cities, Washington and Baltimore have spent more than three years developing their proposal and raised more than $9 million in cash and in-kind services to fund it.
Now required to move forward is a minimum of $100 million in local government guarantees by Nov. 30 to secure against any budgetary shortfalls. Knise said yesterday the process, involving funds from Maryland, Virginia and the District, is nearly complete and now down to "mechanics." Additional USOC guidelines and requirements for this final domestic round will be distributed Dec. 7.
Knise said security plans in the bid have not been altered since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but that is because it is still too soon to draft a highly detailed plan.
"By selecting Washington and by selecting New York, the USOC has shown they're clearly looking beyond [Sept. 11] and are looking at the broader picture, that the Olympics and the Olympic movement are about free exchange across international boundaries," District mayor Anthony Williams said.
A local Olympics is expected to produce more than $5 billion in economic activity, according to an estimate by George Mason University economist Stephen Fuller. It also would provide a severe test for a regional transportation system already bursting at the seams. But a poll taken last year in Washington and Baltimore found that more 80 percent of local residents are in favor of an Olympics in the two cities.


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