U.S. Olympic Committee gauges Atlanta’s interest in hosting 2024 Games

Atlanta is one of dozens of cities that have been asked whether they are interested in hosting the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. And Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is open to exploring the possibility.

The United States Olympic Committee is reaching out to cities that have previously expressed an interest in the games, as well as the cities in the largest 25 U.S. markets. The letters went out the mayors of 35 cities.

The USOC is “actively seeking to gauge the interest of U.S. cities that may have the ability to host an event with the scope and scale of the Olympic Games,” chief executive Scott A. Blackmun wrote to Reed in a letter dated Feb. 19.

Atlanta hosted the summer Olympic Games in 1996.

Reed said he planned to discuss the query with the city’s civic and business leaders in the weeks and months ahead.

“Atlanta was thrilled to host the Centennial Olympic Games and welcome the world to our great city in 1996,” Reed said in a statement Thursday. “The games fueled the city’s economic and population growth, enhanced our international reputation as a leading global city, and continues to be a source of pride after more than a decade. We are pleased to be on the short list of cities with which the U.S. Olympic Committee will have initial conversations.

“This opportunity is worthy of thoughtful consideration,” he said.

Blackmun said the USOC has more than two years to decide whether to submit a bid for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games, but would like to being discussions with interested cities about possible bid themes as well as the infrastructure, financial resources and other assets.

The staging of the Olympics would involve an operating budget of more than $3 billion, not including costs associated with building venues and other infrastructure.

In his letter, Blackmun listed a number of requirements that the winning city would have to meet: 45,000 hotel rooms; an Olympic village that sleeps 16,500 and has a 5000-person dining hall’ operations space for over 15,000 media and broadcasters; an international airport that can handle thousands of international travelers per day; public transportation service to venues; roadway closures to allow exclusive use for Games-related transportation and a workforce of up to 200,000.

The United States submitted bids to host the 2012 games in New York and the 2016 games in Chicago. Both cities had to participate in a domestic bid process that cost more than $10 million before they won the United States Olympic Committee’s blessing as an “IOC Applicant City.”

Blackmun said the process to select the 2024 city would be “thoughtful but more efficient.”

Already, the invitation has attracted at least one high-profile detractor. Ambassador and former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young, who helped bring the 1996 Games to Atlanta, said the city has other, more pressing issues.

“We have other things we need to do that are going to command our attention—transportation, water resources,” Young told Atlanta Magazine. “There are a lot of problems we need to take care of.”