By Steve Keating
(Reuters) - The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) will explore a possible Los Angeles bid for the 2024 Summer Games after Boston pulled out of the race, USOC chairman Larry Probst said on
Following the rescinding of Boston's candidature due to a lack of public support, the USOC has been forced to move quickly to find another potential host with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) having set a Sept. 15 deadline for interested cities to submit a letter of intent.
"We continue to believe a U.S. bid for the 2024 Games can be successful and at the end of the meeting our board focused our discussion on a potential bid by Los Angeles," Probst said on a conference call following the USOC board meeting at the Denver airport.
"The board authorized (USOC CEO) Scott Blackmun to work with Los Angeles to further explore the viability of a bid for the 2024 Olympic Games."
If a deal can be struck, Los Angeles, which has hosted the Summer Games twice before in 1932 and 1984, would join a race that already includes Paris, Rome, Budapest and Hamburg, Germany.
The United States has not hosted the Summer Olympics since 1996.
"Our discussion with LA to date have been very, very positive but there are complicated issues in the discussion," said Blackmun. "We would love to have this wrapped up by the end of August and that is still our goal."
Neither Blackmun nor Probst would elaborate on what those issues were, saying only that they believed they could be worked out.
Los Angeles had been considered the hot favorite to become the U.S. candidate city ahead of the other finalists Boston, Washington D.C. and San Francisco.
But the USOC in January opted for Boston and the bid seemed doomed from the start as public support eroded.
The USOC said it has conducted several polls in the Los Angeles area to gauge enthusiasm for another run at a Summer Games and found overwhelming support.
"We commissioned a poll that was done in early August and we had stronger support, 81 percent, than we had when we commissioned our last poll in Los Angeles last December," said Blackmun.
"We've got a lot of work to do to get this to the finish line but we believe LA gives us our best chance."
Boston's removal from the 2024 race proved an embarrassment for both the USOC and IOC, which has seen a troubling drop in cities interested in hosting a Games.
After four different candidates from Europe bidding for the 2022 Winter Games dropped out, mostly because of concerns over costs, the IOC was left with a choice between unlikely bids from Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan, before finally settling on the Chinese capital.
The IOC has made it clear it expects the U.S. to bid for the 2024 Games and at recent meetings in Kuala Lumpur did not hide its disappointment over the Boston fiasco.
IOC President Thomas Bach and other Olympic power brokers were quick to tell the U.S. to find a replacement and push ahead with plans to bid.
"I think it would be a lost opportunity," said Blackmun.
"The Games have not been in the United States since 1996. On the Summer side there is a whole generation of Americans that has not seen the Games on American soil.
"We want to address that."
The IOC will vote on the 2024 host in Lima, Peru, in September 2017.
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto.; Editing by Larry Fine)