- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 20, 2014

This week, influential community and government leaders from Boston, San Francisco and Southern California will arrive in Colorado Springs to make their pitches why they should be the United States Olympic Committee’s choice for the U.S. bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics.

Joining them will be the state of Virginia. Yes, the Virginia Games.

Governor Terry McAuliffe is supposed to be making the pitch for … what, the Virginia Olympics? The D.C. Games? What about Baltimore?

“Who exactly is making the bid down there? Washington? Baltimore?” asked a rival Olympic committee organizer.

The local 2024 bid is a mystery to many — the biggest mystery perhaps being why elected officials and community leaders would punish their citizens and the generations to come with the burden of hosting what is typically a financial train wreck just to line their infrastructure pockets and stroke their civic egos.

The local bid — like the last time this region went through this futile exercise in 2001 for the 2012 bid — is likely going to be some form of Maryland, D.C., and Virginia effort. Local organizers are trying to do all they can to hide their bid and keep the public in the dark as long as possible, until, perhaps, through some sort of cursed miracle, all of a sudden you wake up one morning and find out the Olympics are coming to the Washington region in 2024.

They are operating in private, behind closed doors, away from taxpayers, even though government officials in Maryland, Virginia and D.C., at some point — if they haven’t already given assurances secretly — will have to offer some sort of financial guarantees to back the local Olympic spending if needed.

This is why the USOC wants to see government support for any Olympic bid. I suspect if McAuliffe is making the pitch in Colorado, it is in part because the two other government jurisdictions — Maryland and the District — have outgoing government leaders, Governor Martin O’Malley and Mayor Vincent Gray. McAuliffe is the only one left, just taking office in January, who actually can make assurances to the USOC that someone who is in charge of taxpayer money would be willing to use it if necessary.

The secrecy of the local Olympic bid is disturbing for citizens who will feel the pain but reap none of the rewards of such an elitist, self-indulgent exercise, under the guise of a noble contribution to the community. If it is such a worthwhile venture, why not operate in the light instead of the dark?

Who really is behind the Washington region 2024 Olympic bid?

If you are an average citizen in Los Angeles, and you want to know who is behind this noble effort to host the games, all you have to do is go to their web site, and you can see all the officers and officials who make up the Southern California 2024 bid — all 75 of them.

Boston? The organizing committee there has revealed a group of 15 corporate and government leaders who are behind the Boston 2024 bid.

San Francisco, like Washington, operated in the dark until the USOC named San Francisco one of four finalists for the USOC bid. Then, members of that group revealed some of the names who are working there on the bid.

Washington? If you were in the witness protection program and were looking for a place to hide, the DC 2024 bid would be an excellent place.

In 2013, the Washington Post reported that the Greater Washington Sports Alliance was part of the DC 2024 bid. But when asked to reveal the names of others involved in the bid, a spokeswoman refused to release those names, telling the Post that it would be revealed “at some point down the road.”

Well, the road is coming to an end. The USOC is expected to make its decision by the end of this year, and the D.C. bid remains hidden in secrecy.

The official website offers little to no information. An email listed for media requests bounces back undeliverable. The only two names that have been publicly connected to the DC 2024 bid are Washington Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis and businessman Russ Ramsey.

Surely there are more business and government leaders who are part of the 2024 bid, right?

An email request to Leonsis’ spokesman Kurt Kehl resulted in this reply: “At this time, it is just Russ Ramsey and Ted.”


This was the way they operated in 2001 on the 2012 effort when the committee — which included the publisher of The Baltimore Sun as a board member and the Washington Post as a corporate supporter — held meetings in private, even though government (taxpayer) support is a necessary component of any bid.

This time, though, it’s even more clandestine. They won’t even reveal who is involved.

It’s just Russ and Ted’s excellent adventure.

Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,” noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 radio and espn980.com

• Thom Loverro can be reached at tloverro@washingtontimes.com.

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