Welcome back, folks!  Okay, well, that's more to me than anything else.  It has been a lengthy time away, and the change-over back to me (the original author) is complete!

That said, there have been a lot of developments in the USOC's plans for the 2024 Summer Olympics.  On Tuesday, the USOC sent out letters to the mayors of 35 cities in the US.  Here is the list:

Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Washington D.C., Denver, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Memphis, Miami, Minneapolis, Nashville, New York City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland, Rochester, Sacramento, Sacramento, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, St. Louis and Tulsa. (from The Dallas Morning News)
According to the source above, the list was generated based on population (the 25 largest cities made the cut automatically) and on previously indicated interest in hosting the Olympics (the remaining 10).

Minneapolis made the list.

How the mayor responds isn't entirely clear, but we can have a say.  By the time 2024 rolls around, it will have been 28 years since the Atlanta games.  This, of course, depends on how seriously the USOC and the local organizing committee takes their chances and applies themselves.  And this is where we need to make some noise.

As the citizens of this city and state and supporters of the Olympic movement in general, we've got to take some activism.  We have a voice, and we've got to make it heard.  First and foremost, get in touch with the Minneapolis mayor and city councilYou can contact Mayor Rybak here and members of the Minneapolis City Council here.  Next, contact your state legislators.  You can find your representation by entering your physical address at the District Finder webpage.  Email, call, or mail your legislators.  Let them know that you support hosting the Olympics in Minneapolis. 

Let's make it happen!!
 
 
The Olympics and the American West
In 3 years time the IOC will convene in Kuala Lumpur to decide the host city for the 2022 Winter Olympics, and several cities in the American West are looking to be contenders.  Experienced hosts Salt Lake City (2002) and Lake Tahoe (1960) will be joined by Denver to win the honors of hosting what could be the first Olympic games in the US in 20 years.

The likelihood of a US candidate city winning the bid is extremely high because of two things.  The most obvious reason is the drought"If the IOC is smart, it must realize that from time to time, there should be Games in the United States," says Canadian IOC member Dick Pound, former chairman of the IOC's marketing commission. "It's still the most important country for the Olympics."  But the US has something else working in its favor too: topography.  Unlike their summer cousins, the winter games require mountains and altitude changes, and this limits the number of cities that can realistically consider an Olympic bid.  Given the importance of the US to the IOC, the terrain of the Rockies, and the financial backing of the largest economy in the world, any US candidate city should be a shoo-in. 

But it won't be.

The USOC and the IOC have been locked in a revenue sharing dispute for the past few years.  According to USA Today, the USOC receives 20% of global sponsor money and 12.75% of U.S. broadcast fees.  Several members of the IOC have strong objections to this contract--which is good until 2020--and cited the deal as the reason for Chicago's failed bid for the 2016 Olympics.  There has been little progress on this issue, and there is no timetable for when this must be resolved.  "If we are far enough along (in resolving the revenue-sharing issue), we will begin thinking about it", said USOC Chief Executive Scott Blackmun.  But in the event that no progress is made, any bid may just have to go the route of Las Vegas 2020.

The USOC will choose its candidate for the 2022 Games at the end of this year.
 
 
Baku's Organizing Committee launched a new promotional video yesterday showcasing the city and the venues.  Take a look:
The "Paris of the East" says it won't spare any cost, attempting to simultaneously dispell the idea that small countries can't host the games (Athens put that ball in motion) and the brush-off attitude some members of the IOC seem to have when it comes to Baku.  This may be what it takes for Baku to make it to the short list, but given the competition, the quest to host is going to be an uphill battle.
 
 
IOC Vice President Mario Pescante has resigned his post, claiming he is embarrassed by the withdrawal of the Rome 2020 bid.  From the article:

Pescante was pessimistic about the Games returning to Rome anytime in the near future for the first time since 1960, believing that Paris will be the clear favourites to host the 2024 Olympics, marking the centenary of the last occasion they were held in the French capital.

A bid from Paris is likely, and the city is experienced.  The French capital hosted the games in 1900 and 1924 and has bid several other times.  The most recent bid was for the Olympics coming this summer; Paris only lost to host city London by 4 votes (in contrast, the American candidate, New York, got knocked out in the 2nd round of voting--it only beat Moscow).  Given the Eurocentric nature of the IOC, any bid by the French would bear some serious weight.  And given that this would be the Centennial year, the Parisian cohort is likely to bring some strong emotions and arguments to the bidding table.

There isn't much chatter yet about Paris 2024, but Pescante's prediction is significant because of his (former) position in the IOC.  If the IOC and the USOC can resolve their fund sharing dispute in the next few years, whatever US city chooses to bid must have a stunning plan in place.
 
 
Last Wednesday marked the deadline for bid cities to submit their application files to the IOC.  Five cities have met the deadline to become bid cities:

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Baku, Azerbaijan
www.baku2020.com
On September 1, 2011, Azerbaijan announced its intention to bid for the 2020 Olympic Games.  Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, has already been the host of many high-profile events, including World Rhythmic Gymnastics championships and the FILA World Wrestling Championships.  Baku submitted an application for the 2016 Olympics, but the city failed to make the short list of candidates.  Given the IOC's penchant for choosing unique locations, Baku may be more appealing this time.  It would be the first host city in near-east Asia.

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Doha, Qatar
www.doha.qa
Qatar's capital revealed in 2008 that it had plans to bid for the 2020 Olympics.  Like Baku, Doha made a bid for the 2016 games but failed to make the cut of candidate cities.  Doha hopes to capitalize on its success in hosting the 2006 Asian Games and on its successful campaign for the 2022 World Cup.  Doha would become the first host in the Middle East should it succeed, but its geography is also its curse.  Doha wants to avoid the hot desert summer by hosting the games in October, something the IOC is reluctant to agree to.

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Istanbul, Turkey
www.istanbul2020.com.tr
Turkey's candidacy was officially announced in August of 2011 by Prime Minister Recep Tayypi Erdogan.  The European Capital of Sport for 2012, Istanbul has hosted the World Basketball Championships, the Euroleague final four, and many other world and European events.  Istanbul has bid four times before: 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012.

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Madrid, Spain
www.madrid2020.es/en/
The Spanish Olympic Committee nominated Madrid as their bid city on June 1, 2011.  Spain hosted the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, the only games that have been held in the country.  Other Spanish cities have bid unsuccessfully since then: Seville for 2004 and 2008, and Jaca for 1998, 2002, 2010, and 2014.  Madrid has bid several times as well, including its most recent bid for the 2016 games.  As the only European city, Madrid may have a leg up on the competition.

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Tokyo, Japan
www.tokyo2020.jp/en/
Tokyo announced in the summer of 2011 that it would pursue a 2020 Olympic bid.  Tokyo has bid many times before, first in 1940 (it won, but the games were cancelled because of WWII).  Tokyo bid again in 1960, losing to Rome.  Four years later, it finally hosted the games, becoming the first Asian city to do so.  If history has anything to say, Tokyo may just host again: it lost the 2016 bid to Rio de Janeiro.

Timeline:
On May 23, the IOC will reveal its official list of candidate cities.  There is much speculation about which cities will make that list, with some sources even claiming that all 5 will be selected as candidates.  Over the next few months, officials from the IOC will deliberate.

The official host for the 2020 games will be selected at the IOC Session in Buenos Aires on September 7, 2013.

My (Early) Pick:
Tokyo, Madrid, and Istanbul have the greatest chance of making the short list in May.  Of these three, Madrid has the greatest chance, given the strength of its bid for the 2016 games.  However, if Doha makes the shortlist, this signals that the IOC is willing to accept a summer games held in October, and in this case, Doha would be the most likely host.
 
 
Last week, the Italian Premier nixed Rome's chances at bidding for the 2020 Olympics.  The reason, he said, was the financial crisis gripping the country.  While some in the IOC apparently were surprised, there's no doubt that Italy made the right move.  The IOC requires bid cities to provide guarantees that their government will cover the cost of any deficit.  And given the austerity measures that Italy must enact to avoid going the way of Greece, it could be considered reckless to spend billions of dollars on securing the games.

Speaking of Greece...  It's difficult to look at the current debt crisis in Greece without looking at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.  The Athens games went wildly beyond their projected budget (the Guardian says they were at least €2.4 billion over), a tab that still haunts the tiny country's economy.  Greeks had emotional reasons for bringing the games to Athens--Greece is the birthplace of the Olympics, after all--but they don't have the stomachs for the austerity measures that now have to be force-fed by the government.

Lesson number 1: Regardless of their size, games MUST have the financial backing.

Which leads to Salt Lake City.  The projected budget was nearly that of the much larger summer games in Sydney 2000, but Salt Lake had the backing of the world's largest economy.  And the Salt Lake games paid off: "[Salt Lake City Chamber of Commerce Spokesman Marty] Carpenter said the Salt Lake Chamber credits the Olympics witw(sic) $4.8 billion in sales, 35,000 job years of employment, $1.5 billion in earnings for Utah workers and, as well as $250 million in venture capital, from 1996 to 2002."  The 2002 games themselves cost $2.1 billion, but over a 5 year period from 1998 to 2003, they generated a net revenue of $76 million for the state and the country.  The lesson from Salt Lake: big games must have big backing.

The 2010 games in Vancouver will likely have the same effect, though it's too soon to tell for sure.  A few effects have been measured: "Two other reports released by the provincial and federal governments earlier on Friday said the 2010 Olympics created more than 45,000 jobs and generated as much as $2.5 billion in real gross domestic product."  What's more significant is this: VANOC reports that the games came in on budget and on time, something "remarkable" given the global economic climate of the years leading up to Vancouver 2010.  Likewise, Vancouver had the backing of a moderately sized and what is generally viewed as a responsible economy.  The lesson from Vancouver: well-managed games leave a positive legacy and can make money even in a poor economic environment.

Let this be the "no-duh" outcome of the story, for 2020 bids and future bids: Olympic bid cities must first show financial backing.
 
 
In the past week, the United States and Canada celebrated two anniversaries. 

Salt Lake City
Ten years ago last Wednesday marked the start of the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. 
http://youtu.be/Pyt0MI8OSdQ

These were the first Olympics with Jacques Rogge as the head of the IOC, the first after the September 11th attacks, and the first in what could be arguably a new age of global awareness for the entire world.  These games also proved to be a huge benefit to Salt Lake City and to Utah.  The state has been left with no debt; instead the ripple effect from the games have resulted in $56 million net revenue.
http://www.standard.net/stories/2012/02/11/utah-olympics-paid-economically

But these were also the last games in the United States.  And this could cause problems according to USA Today:
"Not having a home Games on the horizon, [USOC CEO Scott Blackmun] says, affects Olympic awareness among fans and impacts to some extent how much sponsor and donor money the USOC raises to train Olympians. Over time, it could diminish how well U.S. athletes perform."

Eventually the games will come back to the United States, and this site hopes that it will be in 2024 in Minneapolis.  But if this city isn't chosen, the Olympics are due for a return stateside.  Team USA is craving a home field advantage.

Vancouver
Our neighbors to the north still seem to be enjoying the afterglow of the latest Olympics: Vancouver 2010.  Two years ago today, Wayne Gretzky lit the Olympic cauldron marking the start of the Vancouver games.  The Canucks reigned supreme at the games, claiming their first official gold medal in a home Olympics (they were unable to do so in Montreal in '76 and Calgary in '88) as well as the first Olympics to honor first nations as host nations. 

Two years ago tonight audiences must have been wondering if the opening ceremonies could compete with the previous Olympics' ceremonies in Beijing.  While they couldn't compete with Beijing 2008 in size, it triumphed in its simplicity, flow, and technical effect.  David Atkins (known for the Sydney 2000 ceremonies) created a spectacular show--and did so in an entirely enclosed stadium.
http://youtu.be/IdR_JSzHJrI

What's next for Canadian Olympics?  There might be a Toronto bid on the table for 2024 (the mayor nixed the effort for the 2020 games).  For now, though, Toronto might just be content to host the next Pan-American Games in 2015



 
 
On Wednesday, January 25th, a letter was sent to Governor Mark Dayton advocating for a bid by Minneapolis to host the 2024 Summer Olympics.  This is the text of that letter:

"Dear Governor Dayton:

"In this the first week of the 2012 legislative session, I am writing you with an additional consideration for the Vikings stadium plans, one that will serve the greater good of the Twin Cities in particular and of Minnesota as a whole: the Games of the XXXIII Olympiad, the 2024 Summer Olympics.

"Bringing the Olympics to Minnesota is an ambitious goal, but it is one that can be achieved.  Minneapolis has tried twice before, once for the 1952 Games when it lost to host city Helsinki, and once for the 1996 Games when it lost the USOC vote to Atlanta.  In 2024, Minneapolis will succeed.  By 2024, it will have been 22 years since the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and 28 years since the Summer Olympics in Atlanta; the IOC will have to take any candidate city from the US seriously.  Additionally, by 2024 the Twin Cities will have hosted several national and international events, including the 2011 National Gymnastics Championships, 2015 National Senior Games and the 2016 Ryder cup as well as the annual Twin Cities Marathon—all of which will prove the City’s capability to host an event like the Olympics.

"Minneapolis has several other attributes that make it appealing as a host city.  Its venues require either little or no adjustment.  Facilities like the Target Center, Xcel Energy Center, and Hazeltine National Golf Club have hosted many major events and are ready to do so again.  Other venues—such as the Warner Coliseum, Minneapolis Convention Center, and National Sports Center in Blaine—are just a minor remodeling away from being Olympic-ready.  Most new venues would be temporary, the exception being a brand new Vikings stadium serving as the main Olympic Stadium.  A list of possible venues is attached.  The citizens of Minnesota have also proved supportive.  A Facebook group supporting a bid for the 2020 Olympics garnered support from almost 100,000 users in a few months.  Coverage by the local media spurred interest throughout the Cities and State as talk of the 2020 Games circulated. 

"As with any issue in our state, literal purse strings are attached.  Money is a factor, and Olympic Games are expensive ventures.  The Telegraph reports the current total budget for all aspects of the London Games is over £9 billion (or $14 billion).  This includes all infrastructure improvements, all venue construction and remodeling, all operational costs, and all personnel costs, as well as maintenance during and after this year’s Olympics.  But Minneapolis already has some of this funding in place, and some of these projects (e.g. the Central Corridor LRT) will develop with or without an Olympics.  Should the Olympics be awarded to Minneapolis, the City will not face the cost alone.  In 2002, the federal government contributed nearly half of the then $2.7 billion budget for hosting the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. 

"While the cost of the Olympics cannot be overlooked, neither can its benefits, particularly on the world stage.  “Recognizing that our government spends billions of dollars to maintain wartime capability, it is entirely appropriate to invest several hundred millions to promote peace,” remarked then president of the Salt Lake City Organizing Committee Mitt Romney.   Minneapolis will make a grand introduction on the international scene by welcoming people from around the globe in peace.  Minneapolitans and Minnesotans alike will benefit from improved infrastructure and a rise in tourism.  The city and state may even benefit directly in financial terms; the 1984 Games in Los Angeles made more than $100 million for that city.  Most importantly, though, a brand new home for the Vikings and a set of Olympic-class venues will transform Minneapolis into the capital of sports in the Upper Midwest. 

"In 2024, the Olympic Games will come to Minneapolis, but only with your help.  As plans for the Vikings stadium pan out, I urge you to think big.  We are at a crossroads in our state, and we should merge our interests in the Vikings with the plans of the City of Minneapolis and the goals of our state.  Setting a common goal—hosting the Olympic Games—will do just that.  As a resident of this great state and a native of the Twin Cities, I urge you to bring the Games of the XXXIII Olympiad to Minneapolis in 2024.

"Thank you for your consideration."
 
 
Minneapolis 2024 is a private endeavor seeking to bring the Olympic and Paralympic Games of 2024 to the Twin Cities.  This site was developed to provide information and inspiration for those interested in learning more about the Olympics and the possibility of bringing them to Minneapolis.