DENVER – The U.S. Olympic Committee will not bid for the 2022 Winter Games, instead choosing to explore the possibility of hosting either the Summer Olympics in 2024 or the Winter Olympics in 2026.
In a meeting Tuesday, the USOC board decided to form a committee that would look into 2024 and 2026, in part because going for the 2022 Games would put the federation on a fast timeline. A bid for those games would be due in the fall of 2013.
"It's not so much about bidding for 2022 as what strategy gives us the best chance to submit a winning bid," CEO Scott Blackmun said. "Looking at 2024 and 2026 gives us the best chance to do that. It allows us to form partnerships with all the people who need to be involved in a bid. That would allow us to put our best foot forward."
Earlier this year, the USOC removed a major roadblock for another bid when it resolved a long-simmering feud over revenue sharing with the International Olympic Committee.
Blackmun said he would be surprised if the USOC didn't bid for either 2024 or 2026.
"We think hosting the Games is very important for us," he said.
Last week, an exploratory committee in Denver recommended the city move forward on plans for a 2022 bid. Spokeswoman Sue Baldwin said it was "too early for us to know" how the USOC news would affect the Denver effort.
Denver's mayor, Michael Hancock, and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper released a joint statement that said: "We are disappointed the world won't come to Denver for a Winter Games in 2022. But we appreciate the thoughtful approach taken by the U.S. Olympic Committee to bring the Games back to America."
The United States hasn't hosted a Summer Games since 1996 or a Winter Games since 2002, meaning there will be at least a 22-year gap between games on U.S. soil.
Lake Tahoe and Bozeman, Mont., were also considering bids.
California's Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom said he was disappointed to hear the USOC was skipping 2022.
"However, I am emboldened by the news that the USOC is committing to future games in the United States," he said. "Should the Committee choose to bid for the 2024 Summer Games, California has three exceptional options in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco."
Other possible candidates for 2024 would be Chicago, New York and Dallas, which was thought to be a front-runner had the USOC picked a city for a 2020 bid. If the USOC does go forward, there would almost certainly be no domestic bidding process, the way there was when Chicago was tabbed as the 2016 candidate.
Chicago finished last in the IOC voting and when the city lost, the USOC was widely criticized as contributing heavily to the defeat because of its poor international reputation.
"This gives us further time to develop relationships with the IOC," chairman Larry Probst said, speaking to the fact that these bids are won as much through relationships as the pros and cons of the cities themselves.
One of the major questions the USOC must decide is whether to go for a Summer Games, widely viewed as more prestigious and harder to land, or a Winter Olympics, where the bidding is less competitive.
The USOC committee will likely be made from members of the current board and will report to the full board at its quarterly meeting in December. Blackmun said December was not, however, a deadline for a decision.