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WASHINGTON – Place your hands together in just the right way, with thumbs overlapping and the other fingers pointing to the sky, and you've created the symbol for 2024 Olympics in the nation's capital.
It's supposed to be a "U'' for unity. And, if you put two of them together and use your imagination, you get a "W'' for Washington.
Wait a minute. Unity in Washington? Isn't than an oxymoron?
One of the toughest selling points for organizers of a proposed Summer Games in D.C. will be to prove that it's not a city of inherent dysfunction — that away from the daily tit-for-tats between White House and Congress is a vibrant city of museums, theater and sports, with a solid public transportation system to move everyone around.
Local organizers believe a major project such as the Olympics would be able to bring groups in the city together — even Republicans and Democrats.
"The nation's capital has the unique ability to bring people together through the universal language of sport," bid chairman Russ Ramsey said.
Here's what to know about the city's bid:
ALL TOGETHER NOW:
Three jurisdictions — Virginia, Maryland and D.C. — would have to cooperate to pull off an Olympics. Not to mention the fact that Congress has broad oversight over the District's affairs.
It looks like a logistical nightmare, but Washington 2024 points out that the various entities work together all the time on matters such as transportation and security. If they can pull off an inauguration, the Olympics should certainly be in their wheelhouse.
"The largest expense of any Olympic Games is security," said Bob Sweeney, a senior adviser to the bid. "And the fact that we've got it pretty built in to our everyday life here in Washington, we would leverage that asset tremendously."
BALANCING THE BUDGET:
The D.C. bid hopes to do what Congress cannot: Keep the budget under control. There's even hope that games could turn a profit because most of the venues are already in place.
"That's one of the most compelling aspects of what we have available to us, relative to any of the other recent games," Ramsey said. "Our build is very, very modest."
A NEW RFK?:
The city is flush with ready-made facilities, including the Verizon Center, Xfinity Center, Nationals Park, D.C. Armory and a large convention center, but what's missing is a main stadium for track and field and the opening and closing ceremonies. The obvious location is the site near the Anacostia River currently occupied by antiquated RFK Stadium. The new stadium could then be converted into a new home for the Washington Redskins.
The city would also need new buildings for cycling and swimming, but organizers believe existing venues could take care of most everything else.
Organizers initially pitched a regional Olympics stretching from Baltimore to Richmond, Virginia, but those two cities have faded from the plan. Washington 2024 now says the goal is to have 70 percent of the venues reachable within 15 minutes. The only far-flung sites might be sailing on the Chesapeake Bay, equestrian in Virginia's horse country and canoe-kayak at an existing world-class facility in western Maryland.
It also helps that D.C. is a city where a car isn't necessary. It boasts a large subway system, a major Amtrak hub and an extensive and popular bike-sharing network. Streetcars are on the way, and there are three major airports in the region.
BIG BAD WASHINGTON:
The city could a tough sell for some International Olympic Committee voters who see the city as a symbol of American arrogance.
The U.S. Olympic Committee shied away from selecting Washington as its nominee for the 2012 Games amid concerns there would be an international backlash after Congress grilled then-IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch at a hearing looking into the Salt Lake City bribery scandal. That's a distant memory, but there are those abroad who look at D.C. and see only the headquarters of a heavy-handed superpower.
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