Sat, Sep 26, 2015 - Page 19 News List

US committee grateful for second chance


The leader of the US Olympic Committee compared the choice of Boston as a bidder for the 2024 Olympics to Seattle’s choice to pass the ball at the goal-line at the end of the Super Bowl last season.

Fortunately, “unlike the Seahawks, we have not lost the game,” committee CEO Scott Blackmun said.

In his most candid public comments about the ups and downs of the tumultuous bid process, Blackmun used his speech on Thursday at the US Olympic Assembly to focus on the second chance Los Angeles has given the committee to land the 2024 Games.

He also said that he owed an explanation about the Boston mess to this annual gathering of 400-plus members of the Olympic family.

“The Boston bid failed because, from the beginning, it was not a bid supported by the people of Boston,” Blackmun said. “Should we have taken the risk? In hindsight, the answer is ‘No.’”

He equated that to the Seahawks’ decision to throw at the goal-line in the closing moments of the Super Bowl, while trailing New England by four. That pass was intercepted and the call has been derided as one of the worst ever made in sports.

However, “here’s the thing,” Blackmun said. “Unlike the Seahawks, we have not lost the game. We are back on our feet, we have found a second chance waiting and the whole game is in front of us.”

The Olympics is not to be awarded until 2017.

Los Angeles is in the race along with Paris; Rome; Hamburg, Germany; and Budapest, Hungary.

Blackmun introduced LA 2024 chairman Casey Wasserman to the crowd, and Wasserman touted Los Angeles as a storytelling city with 85 percent of its venues already in place, along with a stellar Olympic pedigree as a two-time host.

Wasserman told his own Olympic story — saying he cut his teeth on the Games when he was 10 and the 1984 Olympics came to town.

Those Games — with Peter Ueberroth calling a lot of the shots while Wasserman’s grandfather, Lew, was a major power player in Los Angeles — created the modern-day template for the Olympics and proved they could make money and help a city grow.

“In a very real way, our bid is the Back to the Future bid of this campaign,” Wasserman said. “And no, ‘Back to the Future’ is not our tagline — but stay tuned.”

Los Angeles offered some news, announcing Olympic swimming medalist Janet Evans as its vice chair and positioning that move as a strong sign that athletes are at the heart of its plan.

Mostly, the speeches were to get members of the US Olympic movement pumped again after a start to the year that Blackmun called “the most unsettling and challenging time in my professional life.”

The committee picked Boston in January, dumped it in July, then re-upped with Los Angeles earlier this month.

Chairman Larry Probst said that the committee moved forward after the Boston bid tanked because it was encouraged by international colleagues who he portrayed as “surprised and disappointed [but] not discouraged.”

He gave details about the committee’s improved international relationships, one sign of which is showing up in a number of world championship events taking place in the US.

Those numbers had been “abysmal,” Probst said.

However, last year the US hosted eight world championships in Olympic and Paralympic sports, with 10 more this year, including the Wrestling World Championships in Las Vegas and the Triathlon Worlds in Chicago, both earlier this month.

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