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Boro opinions of Games unchanged by terrorism

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Although the leader of New York’s efforts to host the Olympics in 2012 says the Games are now “more important than ever,” the World Trade Center attack has had little impact on the views of the borough’s most vocal opponents and supporters of the Games.

“In New York we’re more determined than ever to go ahead, and I think there’s a new and greater and more profound respect and admiration and love for this city in the country and in the world,” said Dan Doctoroff, president and founder of NYC 2012, the organization authorized by Mayor Rudy Giuliani to submit the city’s Olympic bid. “What impact that’ll have on the Olympics, I don’t know.”

Support for the Olympics in New York has peaked in the city and around the world since the destruction of the World Trade Center.

“The overwhelming response that I have received has been that this is more important than ever,” Doctoroff said.

But the Olympic proposal has received a lukewarm reception in Queens, where Borough President Claire Shulman and civic leaders have long opposed plans to combine two ponds at Flushing Meadows Corona Park — a stance that is unlikely to change.

“Nothing has happened to change our mind that the sites that the New York City 2012 has identified for water sports for a 2012 Olympiad . . . are inappropri­ate,” said Pat Dolan, executive vice president of the Queens Civic Congress.

NYC 2012’s proposal calls for the Queens West development in Hunter’s Point to house the Olympic Village, which would sit at the center of a rail and ferry transport system specially designed for Olympic participants. The borough would also host many of the Olympic competitions, with the swimming venue located at a reconstructed Astoria Pool and many of the boating events slated for Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

While critics remain unswayed by Olympic advocates, local supporters of the Olympics are more adamant than ever about the need to bring the event into Queens and the city.

George Delis, district manager of Community Board 1 — which strongly supports NYC 2012’s proposal to renovate Astoria Pool — believes the Games are “very much needed to bring that feeling of world peace and unity together.”

“It must be in New York, it should be in New York,” he said.

The sentiment has been echoed as far away as Rome. The mayor of the Italian capital suggested last week that all international contenders to host the Olympics withdraw their bids if the United States Olympic Committee chooses New York as its candidate city.

But an official with the USOC said the promise from overseas would have no bearing on the committee’s choice of an American city, which will be announced in November 2002.

“They were gracious comments from the mayor of Rome, but they will not impact our system,” said USOC spokesman Mike Moran.

Over the summer the USOC’s site selection group toured New York and the other seven American cities that submitted bids to host the Olympics — Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Tampa, Cincinnati and Washington.

The USOC plans to narrow down the number of contenders and announce the whittled-down list of cities on Oct. 26.

Moran said the committee’s selection is based on its visits and the bids submitted by the cities, but he could not say whether the recent terrorism would be factored into the equation.

“Whether or not they choose to add any of these activities to the discussion about the cities, I cannot tell you at the moment,” Moran said.

NYC 2012’s proposal calls for major improvements to existing athletic facilities and the construction of many more. Doctoroff believes the privately funded Olympic projects can be pulled off despite the heavy focus on rebuilding downtown Manhattan because the Olympics will “act as a catalyst and a capstone to the rebirth of New York.”

The Olympic plan “is not only consistent in many ways with the timing and projects anticipated as part of the rebuilding plan, but actually enhances the fabric of the city without conflicting with those projects,” Doctoroff said.

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

Posted 7:23 pm, October 10, 2011
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