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D.C. bids for 2024 Summer Olympics; Capital tired of being snubbed

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Sports,DC,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Olympics

Officials in Washington Tuesday announced plans to seek the 2024 Summer Olympics, a bid to finally bring the world games to one of the few major capital cities to never hold the event.

The initial plans are strong and offer the International Olympic Committee a tempting combination of world class security, thousands of hotel rooms and a relatively cheap venue because it relies on stadiums around the region, including the Verizon Center, the U.S. Naval Academy, George Mason University, and even sites in Baltimore, Md.

"We will be a front-runner," said Robert Sweeney, the president of DC 2024 and the previous head of the Greater Washington Sports Alliance. In an interview he told Secrets that all city officials and sports executives, including the Redskins' Daniel Snyder and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, back the effort.

Politics could play a role in the final choice: The Washington Olympics could be the crowning achievement of the next president, should he -- or she -- win two terms and finish in 2025. "Whoever is our next president could be the president that we are dealing with the Olympics," said Sweeney.

The city, which failed to win the 2012 Olympics, is expected to compete with up to 10 other U.S. cities as the American choice. They include Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Boston, and Dallas. Some believe Paris is the international front-runner because the events would be held on the 100th anniversary of their last games.

Sweeney said that it is "strange" that Washington has never hosted the games, considering that many other major national capitals including London, Paris, Moscow and Berlin have held the Olympics.

The announcement also includes plans to secure the Paralympics.

Technically, the announcement said that DC 2024 is planning to seek the Olympics and that it is in the first phase of sizing up what it would take to actually enter a bid with the U.S. Olympic Committee. But officials said that they are already well ahead of the 2012 effort. "There's nobody who doesn't think we should have this conversation," said Sweeney.

Among the top reasons Sweeney thinks Washington stands alone at the top of potential U.S. Olympic cities is the area's history of securing big events, like the presidential Inauguration, and the vast menu of sports venues around the town. He figures that the price of hosting the 2024 Olympics could be kept to $4-$6 billion because much of the infrastructure is already in place.

A fact sheet points out the advantages of the region:

-- Use existing stadiums in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

-- Capitalize on and build out the area's existing infrastructure for housing and transportation.

-- Work with a diverse group of corporate sponsors to supplement public funding.

-- Leverage the national capital region's security forces and expertise with high-profile events.

Sweeney also said that the DC 2024 committee will find an unusual hook to win. He pointed to London's recent games and the city's promotion of the event as environmentally friendly as something to build on.

The U.S. Olympic Committee will pick a host city in September 2015 and the International Olympic Committee will pick the winner in September 2017.

Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.