Should the United States bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics?

Chris Chase
Fourth-Place Medal

The Associated Press reports that the USOC could be making a last-minute bid to host the 2020 Olympics. A revenue-sharing dispute is being worked out and may lead to the United States submitting the names of applicant cities to the IOC before the Sept. 1 deadline. Fourth-Place Medal looks at the pros and cons of the United States entering the bidding and whether or not a potential bid could land the 2020 Games.

When you fall off a bike, you get right back on it. To be fair, Chicago losing the 2016 Olympics to Rio de Janeiro was more like getting pushed off a bike, but that's no reason to stay mad at the IOC forever. The governing body of the Olympics is always going to be greedy, ego-driven and self-serving. Petulantly holding out on a 2020 bid isn't going to change that.

Chicago's biggest problems were overconfidence (from both organizers and the media that pre-anointed the Midwestern town as a shoo-in) and Rio's status as a "project" for the IOC. The Olympic suits don't like being told what to do. They're special and important. How could they let the plebeians dictate where the Games would be held?

When not avoiding direction from the huddled masses, Olympic officials love to fancy themselves as leaders of change. This is why cities like Beijing and Rio get bids to the Games. In the eyes of the IOC, the Olympics can't do much for Chicago other than building some stadiums and getting a permanent "Welcome to an Olympic city" sign erected at O'Hare. For Rio, though, the Olympics can turn Brazil into a 21st-century global leader. (This logic is completely flawed, by the way, as residents of Greece can attest.)

There's no project city on the 2020 list, unless you count Qatar and Dubai, and neither of those cities will have much of a shot in light of the ongoing World Cup debacle. Every other potential frontrunner has a big strike against it:

Rome -- The Italian capital is the only city officially in for 2020 bidding. Going back to Europe for the second of three summer Olympics (and the third of the last five) could be a stretch, even for the IOC.

Madrid -- See above.

Tokyo -- South Korea getting the 2018 Winter Games was a major blow for Japan's bid. Unless both cities are in Europe, the IOC has always been reluctant to go to the same region in back-to-back Games. Also, shouldn't Japan have more important things to worry about right now?

Istanbul -- Not happening.

The 2020 bid is there for the taking. Why pass it up? Forget about the lingering bitterness over the spurning of Chicago. What, is the USOC going to hold a grudge forever? The IOC has a way of righting its wrongs. Greece was passed over for the centennial games in 1996 but got an Olympics in 2004. Pyeongchang narrowly missed getting the Winter Games twice before eventually getting the nod. Persistance pays off.

There is a potential bump in the road. NBC made its record $4 billion offer for rights to four Olympics without any assurance that the USOC would put an American city in the bidding for 2020. (In theory, that is. Who knows what was said behind closed doors.) The IOC got the billions it wanted from the United States. Why would the organization need to give the U.S. an Olympics now? American broadcasters have already demonstrated they'll pay sight unseen for rights packages. If they bite at a carrot that wasn't dangling, there's no need to hold one up in the future. (The counterargument to that is that there's going to be another rights package up in eight years and the IOC would be wise not to burn bridges.)

Chicago's failed bid cost almost $48 million, a substantial amount of money that should give pause before the USOC and another bid city make a renewed effort to bring the Games back to the United States. Think of it this way, though: NBC makes that much on one night of commercials during the Summer Olympics. The USOC would easily earn that with the additional sponsorships that would come from a domestic Games.

It's worth the risk. Make a bid, United States. At the very least, we'll be able to complain for four more years about how the IOC passed us over again.

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