Summer Olympics in Las Vegas? Don't bet on it

Aug 31 2011 - 4:30pm

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The Olympics in Sin City? It's a real long shot, so you probably shouldn't bet on it.

An anonymous group has aspirations of bringing the 2020 Summer Games to Las Vegas, having sent an application letter Friday to the International Olympic Committee that was reportedly rejected because the last-minute proposal isn't endorsed by the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Bids are due to the IOC on Thursday, and the Colorado Springs-based USOC announced last week that it won't enter the fray for 2020 while it puts the finishing touches on a new revenue-sharing agreement with the IOC. Several other U.S. cities -- Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York and Tulsa, Okla. -- had hopes of competing with Doha, Qatar; Istanbul; Madrid; Rome; and Tokyo for an IOC vote that's scheduled for 2013.

Supporters of the privately funded Las Vegas bid -- they propose building most Olympic venues in the suburb of Henderson, Nev., -- requested the IOC not require the USOC's blessing when a $150,000 application fee is due Sept. 15 but rather when the bid book is due Feb. 15. However, a May 23 memorandum from the IOC states that bids "must be made by the (national Olympic committee) of the territory in which the applicant city is situated."

USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky declined comment Monday about the Las Vegas bid, but he confirmed that "the U.S. will not submit a bid for 2020. ... We've had discussions with multiple cities. We've talked to them all and made them aware we weren't bidding." The U.S. last hosted the Olympics with Salt Lake City in 2002, and it's undecided if there will be an American offering for the 2022 Winter Games -- Denver is a strong possibility.

In the letter to the IOC, Las Vegas leaders wrote that "from a geopolitical perspective, the United States has very good prospects for success with a bid." It continued, "We believe the USOC should use its judgment and reconsider its position over the next few days, so as to not deprive the people of the United States of this opportunity at a time when the country badly needs the investment and jobs which the Olympic Games can provide."

The letter pitched Las Vegas as a logical choice for the Olympics, with "technical issues, such as the high capacity, low cost and ease of use of both air and ground transport," as well as the "most extensive resort hotel accommodations in the world." It says Las Vegas leans on the "depth of human experience and intellectual capital available to successfully orchestrate an effort of this magnitude," with confidence it "can gain the concurrence of the USOC, given sufficient time, irrespective of the status of any legacy issues."

Rumors that the U.S. would bid for 2020 escalated last month, when the USOC submitted documents to the IOC verifying compliance with Court of Arbitration for Sport standards and World Anti-Doping Agency rules. That came after a news conference in South Africa in which IOC president Jacques Rogge essentially requested an American bid, saying that "if there is a good bid coming from the United States, we would be delighted."

Sandusky insists the USOC is "focused on our negotiations with the IOC and putting the best team possible on the field of play for London," where the 2012 Summer Games start in July. He said the USOC is "going back and forth on proposals" on revenue sharing with the IOC. "We're comfortable with the direction it's headed," he added, "and we're working on a solution."

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