DENVER - The U.S. Olympic Committee eliminated Houston and Philadelphia as candidate cities for the 2016 Olympics on Wednesday, leaving San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago in the running for what many consider to be America's best shot in years at landing a Summer Games.
It is believed the International Olympic Committee would like to put games in Africa and South America, two continents that have never played host to the games, in 2020 and 2024.
The U.S. has not played host to the Summer Games since the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. The 2002 Winter Olympics were held in Salt Lake City.
The USOC appointed a four-person committee to evaluate information provided by the cities in June, including ideas for an Olympic stadium, an Olympic village and the amount of local and regional government support they would expect to receive.
The committee also reviewed international polling on whether the time is right for an American city to play host to the Olympics and which city might have the best chance to win the bid.
"All five cities that have participated in this process are capable of one day hosting the Olympic Games," said Peter Ueberroth, the USOC chairman and the architect of the profit-making 1984 Games in Los Angeles. "From the outset, we have said this process is about identifying the one U.S. city that has the best chance of being competitive in the international race. If we do not believe a U.S. city can be competitive, we will not bid."
Other cities that have expressed interest in playing host to the 2016 Games include Rome and Milan in Italy; Madrid, Spain; Hamburg, Germany, and the Japanese cities of Tokyo and Fukuoka.
Among the factors that will weigh into any bid is the amount of revenue the 2016 Olympics can be expected to produce - and how much will go to the host country. A big chunk of that revenue comes from TV rights, and the U.S. Olympic TV rights are sold only through 2012.
Houston Mayor Bill White had touted his city's leadership and financial resources, including several Fortune 500 companies. Philadelphia had pointed to its storied past in American history.
The USOC won't decide until later this year whether it will bid for the 2016 Games. If it does, it will pick between San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago by the end of March 2007. The IOC will then pick the winning site in 2009.