Rogge would be ‘delighted’ by US 2020 bid

IOC President Jacques Rogge said Saturday he would be

”delighted” if the United States decides to bid for the 2020

Olympics despite the stinging rejection of American cities in the

race for two previous Summer Games.

New York failed in its bid for the 2012 Games and Chicago was

eliminated in the first round for the 2016 Olympics, despite the

appearance of President Barack Obama in Copenhagen for the vote in

2009.

National Olympic committees have until Sept. 1 to submit the

names of applicant cities for 2020.

The U.S. Olympic Committee has said it won’t consider a bid

until it reaches final agreement with the International Olympic

Committee on a new revenue-sharing agreement, an issue that has

festered for years and contributed to the humiliating losses for

New York and Chicago.

”As far as the U.S. situation is concerned, there are

declarations from the USOC that they are still waiting but, of

course, if there is a good bid coming from the United States we

would be delighted,” Rogge said at a news conference at the close

of the IOC’s four-day session in Durban.

On another issue, Rogge said he expects half a dozen candidates

to try to succeed him as IOC president when his term expires in

2013, but stressed he would not support or groom a successor.

”There is no lack of potential good successors and this is very

good for the IOC,” he said.

Rome is the only officially declared bid city so far for 2020,

but several other cities are expected to join the race in the

coming days and weeks.

Madrid, Tokyo and Istanbul are likely contenders. Doha, Qatar,

and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, could be potential candidates.

South Africa could still revive a 2020 bid, with Durban as the

likely city, after the government said in late May that the time

was not right for an Olympic campaign.

”You are as a nation ready to host the Olympic Games,” Rogge

said, referring to South Africa. ”It’s up to you what you do … I

have felt, speaking with your politicians, there was a desire to

bid in the future. It might not be 2020, it might be 2024.”

The U.S. hasn’t hosted a Summer Olympics since the 1996 Atlanta

Games.

American bids have been hampered by lingering international

resentment over the USOC’s long-standing 20 percent share of global

sponsorship revenues and 12.75 percent cut of U.S. broadcast rights

deals.

IOC and USOC officials met here Thursday for a new round of

revenue talks and reported progress toward a final agreement. They

agreed to meet again in the next few weeks in New York with the

goal of concluding a deal.

Agreement on a revenue-sharing plan would open the way to a

possible 2020 bid.

”We’re not going to have any substantive discussions or make

any decisions until this is behind us,” USOC CEO Scott Blackmun

told The Associated Press on Thursday. ”We haven’t spent a lot of

time looking at whether there is still time to bid, but because

it’s theoretically possible, we don’t want to rule it out.”

U.S. cities mentioned as potential bidders include New York, Los

Angeles, Dallas, Minneapolis and Tulsa, Okla. Several IOC officials

told AP that New York would be the most viable U.S. candidate.

With the 2008 Summer Olympics in Asia (Beijing), 2012 in Europe

(London) and 2016 in South America (Rio de Janeiro), geography

could be an advantage for North America in 2020.

The Olympics have never been held in Africa.

”Many people believe this is the right time to bid because, as

the saying goes, strike while the iron is hot,” South African IOC

member Sam Ramsamy said, adding the issue will be raised again by

the country’s sports minister with President Jacob Zuma.

The centerpiece of the IOC’s meeting in Durban was the selection

on Wednesday of Pyeongchang, South Korea, as the host for the 2018

Winter Games. The IOC rewarded Pyeongchang for its persistence in

bidding for a third consecutive time after losses for 2010 and

2014.

Rogge, meanwhile, said he would keep his distance from the IOC’s

presidential election campaign.

”I will look at it from the front row with great pleasure and

interest, but I will not be involved,” he said.

Rogge was elected to an eight-year term in 2001 and won a final

four-year mandate in 2009.

”I will absolutely not groom and I will not support anyone,”

he said. ”I have always remained very neutral and I will continue

to do that.”

Rogge did not name any potential candidates, but they include

Germany’s Thomas Bach, Richard Carrion of Puerto Rico, Sergei Bubka

of Ukraine and Denis Oswald of Switzerland.

”I believe in the IOC half a dozen members will have the

profile and maybe even the desire to run,” Rogge said.

With just over a year ago until the London Olympics, Rogge said

he was ”absolutely delighted” by the ”exemplary” preparations

led by organizing committee chief Sebastian Coe.

”What do they have to do until next year?” he said. ”I would

say remain focused. Remain humble, prepare for the unexpected. Seb

is an athlete, he knows that you can never, never be lazy and you

have to continue to fight every day to be fit.”

AP Sports Writer Gerald Imray contributed to this report.