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U.S. Olympic Committee slated to visit Queens

On the eve of a tour of New York City by the U.S. Olympic Committee, the city’s Olympic organizers are touting the choice of Beijing for the 2008 Games as a boost to local chances of hosting the event four years later.

Members of the United States Olympic Committee are slated to visit New York on July 31 and Aug. 1, where they will evaluate the proposal to host the 2012 Summer Olympics submitted by NYC 2012, the organization authorized by Mayor Rudy Giuliani to bid for the event.

“We’re going to show them in two days a vision of what New York will look like in 2012 if we were selected to host the Games for that year,” said NYC 2012 President Daniel Doctoroff.

In the Olympic bid that NYC 2012 publicly released last month, the organization detailed a plan that would place much of the Olympic activity in Queens — with events held at such venues as Astoria Park and Flushing Meadows Corona Park, both of which would undergo extensive development to accommodate the Games.

The hallmark of the proposal is the Olympic “X,” a transport system consisting of trains running along an east-west axis and ferries running north-south that would be centered at Queens West development project in Hunter’s Point — the proposed site of the Olympic Village.

“We will visit 36 of the 40 venues, we’ll ride the rail system, we will test the ferry system, we will expose them to non-sports elements of New York so they get a real taste and feel of everything New York has to offer beyond simply sports and venues,” Doctoroff said of the USOC visit.

The International Olympic Committee voted to hold the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, the Chinese capital, by an overwhelming margin ahead of Toronto, Paris, Istanbul and Osaka.

The choice of Toronto for 2008 would have been seen as a major blow to New York’s chances of hosting the Games four years later.

“Obviously it’s a positive in that it was highly unlikely that the Games would go to North America two times in a row,” Doctoroff said.

Toronto came in a distant second place behind Beijing — earning fewer than half the ballots for the Chinese capital — when the International Olympic Committee cast its vote in Moscow July 13.

The USOC chooses one American city to act as the country’s contender to host the Olympics in any given year. In order to be considered for the 2012 Games, New York must be chosen by the USOC ahead of Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Tampa, Cincinnati and Washington, D.C.

The USOC is expected to pare down the list of American contenders before the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and will choose the candidate city in the fall of 2002. The International Olympic Committee will select the host of the 2012 Games in fall of 2005.

No American cities were in contention for the 2008 Games because the United States Olympic Committee chose to sit out the bid process following the recent 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

The USOC’s decision pushed back by four years the efforts of NYC 2012, which was originally founded to bid for the 2008 Games.

Doctoroff said the 2002 Salt Lake City games will not affect New York’s chances in 2012 because the winter competition is “on just a very different track.”

“Really there are only three regions in the world that are capable of hosting a Winter Olympics — Europe, North America and then from time to time Japan,” Doctoroff said.

Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 154.

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