GUANGZHOU, China — The chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee says several American cities have expressed an interest in hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics, but a new U.S. bid must wait until officials have rebuilt relationships with their international counterparts.
Larry Probst made his comments Monday to The Associated Press at the Asian Games, where he met with Asian Olympic committee officials as part of a new outreach effort after Chicago lost in the first round of voting for the 2016 Summer Games last October.
Probst declined to identify the cities, but said the USOC is far from ready to put together another bid because it needs to first improve its presence internationally and resolve differences with the IOC over revenue sharing.
“We have to build more, better and stronger relationships with people within the Olympic movement before it would be realistic for us to bid again,” Probst said, adding that he doesn't have a timetable for a new U.S. bid.
The 2022 Games will be awarded by the International Olympic Committee in 2015. The host city for the 2018 Winter Olympics, which has three bidding cities — Annecy, France; Munich, Germany; and Pyeongchang, South Korea — will be announced next July.
In Guangzhou, Probst also signed an athletes-and-coaches exchange agreement with the Olympic Council of Asia and watched the women's gymnastics competition Sunday.
On Monday, he handed out medals to the top three finishers of the women's 200-meter butterfly final at the Aoti Aquatics Center east of downtown Guangzhou.
Probst and USOC chief executive Scott Blackmun have taken a tag-team approach in Guangzhou that will combine for a total U.S. presence of about a week.
“Just showing up at events like this, it surprises a few people,” Probst said, noting that the USOC leadership traditionally does not attend the Asian Games. “I think people are positively impressed that we're making that effort.”
Perhaps in line with the USOC's new internationalist outlook, it has not taken sides in the debate over whether American runner LaShawn Merritt can compete at the 2012 London Games despite a recent drug ban.
The Beijing Games 400-meter champion was suspended for 21 months last month after testing positive for a banned substance found in a male enhancement product. Although his ban expires next summer, he can't compete in London the following year under an IOC rule that bars any athlete with a doping penalty of at least six months from competing in the next games.
“We will let things play out accordingly,” Probst said.
Another potential obstacle to a new U.S. Olympic bid is the USOC's revenue-sharing agreement with the IOC. Many international officials believe the Americans get too much sponsorship and TV money.
The sides are preparing to hold talks for a new deal that takes effect in 2020. In a recent compromise, the USOC agreed to pay $18 million that will go toward the administrative costs of staging the Olympic Games.
The USOC chairman said he's hopeful about the negotiations.
“The issues are complicated. It's going to take some time. It's going take some give and take on both sides, but I'm confident that we can get to a place where everybody will be comfortable,” he said.