- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Excitement was palpable in downtown Washington yesterday as area business leaders, Olympians and Paralympians rallied on a street corner to support the region's 2012 Summer Olympics bid.
"It would be icing on the cake to have the games right here," said Nina Fout, a Middleburg, Va., native and bronze medalist for the national equestrian team at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.
Behind Mrs. Fout, a 50-foot-long banner depicting her on horseback during the Sydney Games hung from the fifth-floor windows of the SunTrust Bank building at 15th Street and New York Avenue NW.
The colorful banner is one of five that will hang from buildings in the District and on the University of Maryland campus in College Park through the weekend while U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) officials are in town.
The USOC will be making its final evaluation of the region before it trims the field of domestic candidate cities for the 2012 Summer Games from four to two this summer. The District is bidding jointly with Baltimore. The other three cities in the running are Houston, New York and San Francisco.
In November, the USOC will pick a final U.S. candidate to compete in a three-year global competition before the International Olympic Committee picks the 2012 host in 2005. Likely international finalists include Toronto, Moscow and Paris.
Olympic insiders predict that if the Washington-Baltimore team is chosen, it will mean more than $5 billion in economic development, 70,000 additional jobs and rail access to Washington Dulles International Airport.
The five Olympic street banners were paid for by corporate sponsors of the Chesapeake Region 2012 Coalition, the group spearheading the local Olympic bid. In addition to the banners, the coalition took out full-page poster advertisements in today's editions of The Washington Times and The Washington Post.
Two of the street banners originally were to hang outside the John A. Wilson Building at 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, across the street from the Willard Hotel, where USOC officials are believed to be staying this weekend.
However, it was not clear yesterday whether the banners would hang there because of "some technical issue about how to rig [them] in a way that doesn't damage the skin of the building," said Tony Bullock, a spokesman for D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams, whose office is in the building. Mr. Bullock said he's confident an engineering solution will present itself by the time the USOC officials arrive.
One of the street banners depicts U.S. track and field Paralympian Ann Cody, who competed in a wheelchair in the 10,000-meter event and in the 4 x 100 meter relay at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. She won a bronze medal in the 10,000-meter race and a gold medal, while setting a world record, in the relay.
Mrs. Cody said hosting the Paralympics would not only be financially beneficial for the region, it also would be a "tremendous honor" because of its symbolism.
"This is the city where the Americans With Disabilities Act was written," she said. "We have one of the most accessible mass-transit systems in the country, if not the world."


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