PARK CITY, Utah — A San Diego bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics lives.
A joint San Diego-Tijuana bid does not.
U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun doused the former with gas and the latter with water Tuesday afternoon, speaking at the Olympic Media Summit that gathers journalists and athletes ahead of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
It was Blackmun who first mentioned last spring that a joint bid from San Diego and Tijuana was among 10 potential candidates should the USOC decide to pursue the 2024 Summer Games, as many expect. A few days later, the USOC’s resident historian pointed out that, ahem, the Olympic charter specifically prohibits bi-national bids.
Former San Diego mayor Bob Filner promptly issued a statement hinting at a campaign to amend the International Olympic Committee’s sacred charter, saying he remained “undaunted” and that “rules and bylaws can be changed.”
As recently as mid-August, just weeks before he was forced out of City Hall, Filner spoke of developing “a proposal for the first bi-national Summer Olympics in world history for 2024.” The sentence was punctuated with an exclamation point.
Not happening, according to Blackmun. Exclamation point.
“I think the chances of a joint San Diego-Tijuana bid are zero. If I could go lower, I would,” Blackmun said Tuesday. “I don’t think it would be productive to try to get the Olympic charter changed to create a multi-national bid.”
But a purely San Diego bid? Bring it on.
“I will also say that San Diego has been an incredibly strong supporter of the USOC,” Blackmun continued. “We have a training center in Chula Vista. We would very much entertain a bid from the city of San Diego because we think it’s a great sports city.”
It is a message the San Diego 2024 Exploratory Committee, headed by local businessman Vincent Mudd, appears to have received. Its website speaks of San Diego and “our mega-region,” with only passing reference to the proximity of Tijuana and Mexico.
It also says: “In order to be considered as a host city, we must first demonstrate our capacity to fully comply with USOC and IOC guidelines.”
The chance of a San Diego bid succeeding is not zero, but how much higher remains a questionable proposition. There is the matter of Mudd raising what he says is $2.5 million in necessary start-up funding for his group, plus the support of a new mayor yet to be elected.
There also are the expected bids from several heavyweights: Los Angeles, Dallas, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
First, though, the USOC must bid at all. The 2024 host will be chosen in 2017, and Blackmun hopes to pick a U.S. candidate and decide whether to go forward with it by the end of 2014.
He cited three factors: assuring it makes financial sense, assuring it makes logistical sense and assuring it can win. Some countries bid knowing they probably won’t win but hope to build political capital four years hence; the USOC clearly isn’t interested in playing that game.
The IOC recently chose Tokyo over Madrid and Istanbul for 2020, which means the United States or North America won’t have hosted a Summer Games since 1996 in Atlanta. But it also means that Europe won’t have hosted since 2012 in London, and Europe has never gone more than 12 years between Summer Games.
The new president of a Euro-centric IOC: Thomas Bach, of Germany.
If the USOC passes on 2024, it would look at the 2026 Winter Games or 2028 Summer Games.
“We’re not in any huge hurry right now,” Blackmun said. “We are talking to less than 10 cities at this point. We’ve seen some great ideas. We are excited about the prospect of bidding but we have not made a decision to go forward.”