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U.S. pleased with interest in 2024 Games

United States Olympic Committee chairman Larry Probst (L) speaks after signing an agreement with the IOC during the SportAccord convention a
United States Olympic Committee chairman Larry Probst (L) speaks after signing an agreement with the IOC during the SportAccord convention a

(Reuters) - The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) said on Friday it was pleased with the level of interest by cities in possibly hosting the 2024 Summer Olympics.

The USOC sent out letters to the mayors of America's 35 biggest cities last month to gauge their interest in bidding for the 2024 Games and received a mixed bag of responses.

Los Angeles, which hosted the Summer Games in 1932 and 1984, was quick to throw its hat in the ring while most of the other cities appeared to be taking a more measured look at the opportunity.

Chicago, which launched a failed bid to land the 2016 Summer Games, and Detroit have already ruled themselves out and it is believed New York and Dallas are among those considering a bid although the USOC would not comment on which mayors responded.

"We've gotten a handful of really positive responses and a handful of, 'gee thanks for asking but this isn't the right fit for us,'" USOC chief executive Scott Blackmun said during a conference call from New York.

"We are pleased with the level of interest people have shown but we also want to respect the rights of cities to engage in this process quietly if this is what they elect to do so we are not going to say anything about which cities we are talking to and which cities we are not for now."

After two stunning rejections, the USOC will take its time vetting potential candidate cities before deciding if it will press ahead with a bid for the 2024 Games.

The USOC has emphasized that reaching out to potential host cities does not guarantee the United States will ultimately bid for the 2024 Games unless a strong candidate capable of winning emerges from the pack.

The United States was left embarrassed when Chicago was knocked out in the opening round of voting for the 2016 Games despite a big push from the White House and President Barack Obama. New York was also left disappointed when it was rejected as host for the 2012 Olympics that went to London.

But having mended fences with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) following a bitter revenue-sharing dispute the United States appears ready to once again test the Olympic waters.

Atlanta was the last U.S. city to host a Summer Games in 1996 while Salt Lake City staged the 2002 Winter Games.

"We're going to continue informal discussions with any and all interested cities this year," said Blackmun. "Then sometime early next year we hope to be working with a shortlist of cities, two maybe three talking about the details of what a bid might look like with the view of being in a position by the end of 2014 to make a decision."

The next Summer Olympics will be held in Rio in 2016. The IOC will announce the host city of the 2020 Games later this year with Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo the final three candidates.

A U.S. bid would be considered a strong contender but is sure to face stiff competition from several cities that have expressed interest in staging the 2024 Games, including Rome, Paris, Doha, Dubai and Durban.

The decision on the 2024 host will not be made until 2017.

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Julian Linden and Frank Pingue)

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