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USOC says intends to bid for 2024 Summer Games

Reuters
U.S. Olympic Committee chairman Probst looks on during a meeting with the Pan American Games organising committee in Guadalajara
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U.S. Olympic Committee chairman Larry Probst (R) looks on during a meeting with the Pan American Games …

(Reuters) - The United States will bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics as long as they find a candidate city that meets necessary conditions, United States Olympic Committee (USOC) chairman Larry Probst said on Tuesday.

The USOC has a long list of criteria that a candidate city must meet but with several cities expressing strong interest in a bid and encouragement from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) it seems almost certain the United States will try to land its first Summer Games since 1996.

"It is our intention to bid for 2024 if all the elements we talked about previously are in place," Probst said during a conference call following the USOC's final board meeting of the year in San Francisco.

"That obviously includes, do we have the right message, do we have the right technical plan, do we have the right leaders, do we have the financial support of the local community, do we have governmental support, so a lot of things have to fall in place.

Earlier this year, the USOC sent letters to the mayors of America's 35 biggest cities to gauge interest in bidding for the 2024 Games.

Dallas, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Washington, San Diego and Tulsa have expressed varying degrees of interest in hosting the sporting extravaganza.

USOC chief executive officer Scott Blackmun confirmed reports that a delegation has visited several cities and will be making more visits in December and January.

"We said before that there are less than 10 cities that we are having discussions with and it has been reported we have visited a handful of those cities," said Blackmun. "We're on track to make our decision by the end of 2014 as to whether we want to bid and if we do who our city would be.

"We don't want to have discussions about individual cities at this point because some of those cities may not like to go forward and we prefer that the discussions not be made public."

The USOC has spent several years patching up strained relationships with the IOC that contributed to embarrassing rebukes to New York in its bid to stage the 2012 Olympics and Chicago's failed attempt for the 2016 Games.

Both Probst and Blackmun have spent years mending fences and believe the time is right to test the goodwill they have built.

"We need to continue being present and being engaged," said Blackmun. "Larry has spent a lot of time on the road, I have spent a lot of time on the road and we are enjoying being more involved than we have been if you look back over the last five or 10 years.

"We just need to continue to be at the meetings and participate."

The USOC emphasized that it will take a slow, methodical approach to identifying a candidate.

Blackmun said the USOC could trim the list of possible candidates following the February 7-23 Sochi Winter Games.

The next Summer Olympics will be held in Rio in 2016 while 2020 Games were awarded to Tokyo in September.

The U.S. would be considered a strong contender for 2024 but is sure to face stiff competition from several cities including potential bids Rome, Paris, Doha, Dubai and Durban, South Africa.

The decision on the 2024 host will not be made until 2017.

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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