Region's Olympic bidders won't step aside as gesture to New York

2012 effort `deserves to move forward

Olympics

September 20, 2001|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

Symbolic gestures in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks could affect the site of the 2012 Olympics.

While the mayor of Rome told the International Olympic Committee yesterday that the Italian city might abandon its bid for the 2012 Olympics if New York is the American candidate, the effort to have those Games based in Washington will continue.

"We are all struck by this tragedy," said Dan Knise, president and chief executive officer of Chesapeake Region 2012 Coalition. "We have extended condolences to all of our friends in New York, at the Pentagon and throughout the country. It's an emotional time, and we are all grieving. At the same time, Baltimore and Washington have put a lot of time into this, and our bid deserves to move forward."

According to the Associated Press, Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni declared his city's intention of bidding for the 2012 Games, but he told IOC president Jacques Rogge that New York should be the host if it is the American candidate. Veltroni said he sent a letter to New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani outlining his proposal.

Veltroni stressed that if other cities bidding for the Games did not back the gesture, then Rome would seek the Olympics.

Thousands lost their lives when two hijacked jets were flown into the World Trade Center. About 200 more perished when the Pentagon was also struck by terrorists, and Knise said selecting the nation's capital for the U.S. bid would also be an appropriate message.

"Isn't there some symbolism in bringing the 2012 Olympics to our nation's capital to celebrate humanity, given that this is a national tragedy?" Knise said. "All along, we have viewed ourselves as part of the U.S. Olympic Committee. In the weeks to come, we will continue to take our lead from the USOC."

A spokesman for the USOC said it will continue the process that will pare eight American bids on Oct. 26 to a number yet to be determined. Cincinnati, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Tampa, Fla., are the other U.S. cities making bids. The USOC will select its 2012 candidate in October 2002, and the IOC will select the winner in September 2005.

"In times like these, the statement of the mayor of Rome is a warm example of the human spirit," the USOC's Mike Moran said. "That's admirable, but we have no plans to alter our selection process."

Daniel L. Doctoroff, president and founder of the New York bid, said Mayor Veltroni's proposal was "a beautiful sentiment."

"It's an incredibly warm gesture, and we certainly appreciate it," Doctoroff said. "To be honest, we haven't had time to think too much about the bid since the events of last week. We are more determined than ever to pursue our Olympic bid. It's needed more than ever."

In other Olympic news yesterday, the IOC announced that athletes in endurance sports will have blood tests before the Winter Olympics to detect drug use, and those who fail will face a decisive urine test for EPO.

IOC medical director Patrick Schamasch said it's possible other athletes will be tested as well leading to the Feb. 8-24 Salt Lake City Games.

EPO, or erythropoetin, artificially increases the level of red blood cells, enhancing aerobic capacity.

Also, the IOC gave its approval to adding women's wrestling for the 2004 Olympics but told boxing to cut one of its weight divisions and rejected new events in a number of other sports.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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