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Boro awaits decision on Olympic bid

"I have total confidence," Dan Doctoroff said in an interview with the TimesLedger last Thursday, before modesty forced him to temper his assurance. "I'm optimistic we'll be one of the three or four."

The United States Olympic Committee is slated to announce Friday which of the eight American cities that submitted bids will stay in contention to be America's candidate for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. The final selection will be made in the fall of 2002.

Newsday reported Tuesday New York earned the top score of all eight cities when a USOC panel rated all of the proposals, which puts the city in prime position to move into the next round.

Although the events of Sept. 11 did not prompt any major changes in the Olympic bid, they have created a mindset that the Games would symbolize the city's triumph over tragedy and serve as "the catalyst for the rebuilding that has to occur here," Doctoroff said.

"Many people have suggested that the Olympic Games could be more important now than ever before," he said.

If the city is ultimately chosen to host the competition, more than $800 million in privately funded capital projects would bring both renovated and new facilities to the city.

As president of NYC 2012, the non-profit organization authorized by the City Council to prepare the city's Olympic bid, Doctoroff admitted he is hardly objective in his assessment of the city's Olympic chances. But he is passionate in his belief that New York City has the most compelling Olympic story out of any city in the world.

"For 400 years, New York has lived every day the ideals that the Olympics represents," said Doctoroff, who noted that 188 of the 199 countries participating in the Olympics are represented by children in the city's public schools.

Nowhere is that truer than Queens, the most diverse borough in the city, which plays a pivotal role in the Olympic bid drawn up by NYC 2012. The Queens West development in Hunter's Point has been proposed as the site of the Olympic Village, which would effectively turn the southernmost tip of the borough's East River shore into the heart of the Games.

The central obstacle to having the Olympics in New York - how to get everyone around - has been solved with the Olympic "X," a transportation system made up of trains running along an east-west axis and ferries running north-south, which would extend to every venue and meet up at Queens West.

The borough would also be home to at least three major Olympic venues. Water competitions are slated for the Astoria Pool and Flushing Meadows-Corona Park - both of which would undergo extensive renovation - and badminton and track cycling are planned for a community athletic facility that would be built directly south of the Queensboro Bridge.

The Olympic proposal has encountered significant opposition from Borough President Claire Shulman and members of the Queens Civic Congress, who contend plans to connect two lakes at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park would harm its ecology and limit community access.

But Doctoroff maintains the changes would yield major environmental and recreational improvements, producing a "remarkable wildlife refuge and upgraded park" without forcing it to close it for the renovations.

NYC 2012 submitted its bid to the USOC June 1, and a team from the national committee visited for three days over the summer to get a firsthand glimpse of the city's plans.

Doctoroff, who runs a leveraged buyout investment firm, came up with the idea of bringing the Olympics to New York after seeing his first World Cup soccer match in 1994.

"I thought it was the most exciting event that I had ever been to," Doctoroff said. "National passions just completely changed the character of the event."

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

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