Saturday, October 27, 2001

City's Olympic flame doused

Cincinnati misses the cut

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        SALT LAKE CITY — Cincinnati's run at the 2012 Olympics is over, but its involvement with international, Olympic-style events may be just beginning.

        The United States Olympic Committee announced Friday that Houston, New York, San Francisco and Washington have advanced to the second round of competition in the quest to be picked as America's candidate to host the 2012 Summer Games.

   • New York.
   • San Francisco.
   • Houston.
   • Washington.
   • Dallas.
   • Tampa-Orlando.
   • Los Angeles
        One of them will be picked by the USOC in October 2002 to compete against an international field of cities. The International Olympic Committee will make the final selection of the 2012 Olympic host city in the fall of 2005.

        Nick Vehr, president of Cincinnati 2012, said he wouldn't change anything about the city's bid. But the news certainly did sting.

        “There's a sense of loss anytime you put every waking moment into something for five or six years,” Mr. Vehr said. “But there is nothing more we could have done. There are four great cities that didn't advance. We're in good company.”

        There is a consolation prize for those four cities — Cincinnati, Dallas, Los Angeles and Tampa, Fla.

        USOC President Sandra Baldwin said the cities will be front-runners to host events when U.S. national teams compete against China leading up to the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing.

        “We'll certainly show real favoritism to cities involved in this process,” Ms. Baldwin said. “We see these other cities as playing a very important role in our trying to improve international relations.”

        Charlie Moore, a 1952 gold medalist and chairman of a team of USOC officials who visited each city over the summer, said his team's recommendation on the four

        finalist cities was unanimous. The USOC Executive Committee accepted those recommendations without objection.

        Mr. Moore refused to rank the cities or talk about why Cincinnati, or any of the others, was passed over. He did say that Cincinnati stacked up well against the competition.

        “Cincinnati offered community strength,” Mr. Moore said. “The Banks project along the riverfront is very exciting. The equestrian facilities were world-class. And they gave us one of the best budget analyses we'd seen.

        “Cincinnati used the slogan "America at its best,' and none of us could argue with that.”

Scoring system

        Mr. Moore said the cities were not judged against one another. Instead, they were ranked against a set of criteria that looked at the cities' infrastructure, sports facilities, budgets, hotels and plans for transportation and an Olympic Village.

        “Three of the four selected cities scored in the top three in all but two of these categories,” Mr. Moore said. “No other city scored in the top three more than once.

        “So there was a clear case for taking these four cities forward.”

        Mr. Moore said the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington played no role in the selection of those cities as finalists. He said each of the eight cities is better off having gone through the process. Mr. Vehr agreed.

        “Our bid has enhanced the city's image and the country's awareness of Cincin nati,” Mr. Vehr said.

        Mr. Vehr said it will be up to Cincinnati Sports Corp. to bid on any future international sporting events. Cincinnati 2012 Inc., the nonprofit group that raised about $6 million and spent six years trying to land the Games, is finished.

        More than 100 people who worked with Mr. Vehr on the bid got the word via a conference call from Salt Lake City. They met in the board room of Cinergy.

        When Mr. Vehr's call came through and he told them the news, there were a couple of soft gasps followed by several seconds of complete silence. “It's awfully quiet there,” Mr. Vehr said.

        Then he praised them for having the courage to wrap their hands around the Olympic dream and told them he was proud of them.

        “We are one heck of a lot better than people give us credit for, but not as good as we should be.”

        They applauded.

        Somebody brought in a sheet cake that read “Thank you for your support,” but nobody seemed interested.

        Enquirer reporter Rebecca Billman contributed to this story.

DAUGHERTY: Give Vehr perfect 10 for effort
Associated Press coverage
USOC web site

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