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Volume 68, Issue 3, Wednesday, August 28, 2002

News
 

Houston loses out in Olympic race 

By Savoyia Henderson and Nikie Johnson
The Daily Cougar

After a five-year effort, many Houstonians' hopes of hosting the 2012 Olympic Games were dashed Tuesday. The United States Olympic
Committee eliminated Houston from the race to be the United States' nominee to win the Games.

Along with Houston's chances went UH's role in the plan, which would have put part of the Olympic Village on campus and called for UH's
athletics facilities to be training facilities for the Olympians.

The USOC made the announcement from Chicago, and Houston's City Hall tuned in to the broadcast.

Susan Bandy, president of Houston 2012, the organization in charge of Houston's Olympic bid, said Houston had the best "technical bid" and
that was the "key to winning."

Bandy also said Houston's "international perception" went unknown. The importance of the U.S. city's international appeal was highly touted
during this round of judging.

Houston Mayor Lee Brown said anyone who follows the Olympics "knows what our city has to offer."

"We came much farther than some thought we would," he said. "Maybe I'm a little bit biased, but I thought we should be No. 1."

UH's head track coach, Leroy Burrell, a former Olympic gold medallist, was on the Houston 2012 Board of Directors.

"I'm really disappointed," Burrell said. "I felt that technically and financially we have the best bid -- or we had the best bid -- and I felt that carried a
lot of weight."

But he was able see the bright side, too: "I think that the process has been very refreshing for the city, and we got to put our best foot forward. We
got to prove that Houston is one of the best cities in the country."

Now that Houstonians know the Olympics aren't coming here in 2012, many of the projects that were part of the plan may get moved off the
drawing board.

That may be the case for UH, too. "I think it's too early to assess what improvements will not be made," Burrell said. But since the athletics
facilities would have been used, he said, "I'm sure that would have entailed some upgrading and redoing of our facilities here.

"It's a lost opportunity to highlight what's good about the University of Houston -- a lost opportunity for us to redevelop our neighborhood, our
community," he continued. "The Olympics would have been a chance for us to accelerate the maturation of our University. We'll just have to do it
a little slower."

The USOC didn't give any direct reasons why Houston was eliminated. The cities weren't ranked against each other, but rather against a neutral
number. The biggest portion, 54 percent was based on the International Olympic Committee's criteria for host cities. Another 15 percent was
related to the financial stability of the bid.

The final 31 percent was something Charles H. Moore, the former Olympic gold medallist who heads the task force, called "what it takes to win."
That includes everything from how attractive the city is to the international community to how it would stage the Paralympics.

Washington, D.C., was also eliminated by the USOC, which will now decide between New York and San Francisco. The IOC will make the final
decision in 2005. If the U.S. bid city doesn't win, that city will remain the bid city until it wins.

The general consensus after the announcement was made was that, despite losing the bid, Houston came out a winner.

"I want to reiterate that Houston has learned through this process," Burrell said. "I think we've learned a lot about who we are. I think many
Houstonians have an underdog mentality about our city. But this is a world-class place, and we have world-class people."

 Send comments to dcnews@mail.uh.edu

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