One of the most powerful men in the Olympic movement has urged the United States to push ahead with its plans to bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics, saying it is the "right time".
The U.S. has not hosted the Summer Olympics since 1996, partly because of a long-running feud over television rights and sponsorship, but the president of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC), believes the U.S. now has a great chance.
"I think this is the right time to come forward for 2024,” Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah said on Saturday.
“I don’t know what city, I don’t know the other competitor, I’m not saying anything because I don’t know who’s showing interest.
“But I think this is the best time for the States to come back with a nice bid because 2024, maybe they will have a good chance.”
Sheikh Ahmad, a former Kuwaiti oil minister who is also president of the Olympic Council of Asia, is one of the most influential members of the IOC.
Earlier this week, he was re-elected unopposed to serve four more years as president of ANOC, which represents more than 200 National Olympic Committees (NOCs).
During the ANOC general assembly in Bangkok, he also succeeded in getting approval to start the World Beach Games -- a multi-sports event he pioneered in Asia for countries that can’t afford to host the Olympics -- as well as a resolution supporting IOC president Thomas Bach’s 40-point plan to modernize the Olympics. The 2018, 2020 and 2022 Olympics (summer and winter) will all be held in Asia but the U.S. is planning to bid for 2024.
ANOC has provided the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) with a golden opportunity to press its claims by awarding the 2015 general assembly to Washington D.C.
"It will be very nice to be back in the United States because we have not been back there for a long time," Sheikh Ahmad told a news conference at the end of this year’s general assembly on Saturday.
"I hope this will be the return of the United States in the sport movement -- they are in the sports movement of course, but you understand what I mean.
"(Their) return back after the problems of Salt Lake City and all the cities that didn’t have the chance to host the Games."
The U.S. has not hosted the general assembly since 1994, two years before it last staged the Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
The last time the U.S. hosted the Winter Olympics was in 2002 at Salt Lake City, which became the center of a scandal in vote buying.
Subsequent U.S. bids for the Summer Games have all been rejected but the mood has softened since the USOC and the IOC reached an agreement two years ago on revenue sharing.
Washington D.C, along with Los Angeles, Boston and San Francisco, is one of four cities shortlisted to be the U.S. candidate for 2024, adding possibly even more importance to next year’s ANOC meeting.
"I hope this will be the return because you see today at our general assembly, there were 40 IOC members, the (IOC) President was there, 204 NOC's, 14 IFs (international federations) from the sport program, SportsAccord, a lot of Olympic sport IF presidents, WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency), CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport), athletes, media... it's almost a full house,” he said.
“Those will also be in Washington and I think it's a very good opportunity for the United States Olympic Committee, with their co-ordination commission, to build that trust again.”