Could Tulsa, Oklahoma, be the host of the 2024 Summer Olympic Games? It's a possibility, one the mayor of the city is apparently pushing for.
In February, the U.S. Olympic Committee sent out letters to about 30 cities across the country, including Tulsa, to gauge interest in becoming the U.S. nomination to host the 2024 Games. Last week, the Tulsa City Council was informed by the committee that it was one of the 10 cities that is being actively considered. And Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett has responded with a letter expressing the city's interest in hosting the Games.
“That’s basically all this is right now is just a discussion that we’re interested,” Neil Mavis, a member of the Tulsa 2024 Olympic Exploratory Committee, told the Tulsa World. “Some cities have already responded saying they’re not interested, so the fact we’ve responded and said we are interested means that we’re talking more.”
According to the Tulsa World, Mavis’s group, which is affiliated with the U.S. Olympic Committee and not funded by the city, sought a Tulsa bid for the 2020 Olympics in 2009 but turned its focus to the 2024 games after the Olympic Committee decided not to make a bid that year. The U.S. has not hosted an Olympic Games since the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games; 1996, the widely panned Atlanta Summer Games, was the last year the U.S. hosted the summer spectacular.
The U.S. Olympic Committee likely would sit down with two or three cities if it decides to prepare a bid, Mavis told the Tulsa World.
“They’re not committed to a 2024 bid,” he said. “They’re waiting on trying to talk to the cities to gauge the interest, and we’d like to try to at least get invited to that next step, if there is one.”
“We’re in discussion with about 10 cities actively now,” USOC chief executive Scott Blackmun said in an interview after speaking to the Associated Press Sports Editors in New York. “The process is really working the way it was supposed to.”
The USOC has said it plans to decide by the end of 2014 whether to submit a bid. The International Olympic Committee will select the 2024 host city in 2017. Other potential 2024 contenders include Paris and a city in South Africa.
Major infrastructure investments would have to be made to make Tulsa Olympic-worthy, but the U.S. Olympic Committee also would consider venues in areas as far away as Oklahoma City, Stillwater and northwest Arkansas, Mavis said.
Perhaps the most interesting thing to emerge from these initial talks so far is Mayor Bartlett writing in his letter of interest to the USOC that Tulsa would be interested in submitting a bid with a "Native American theme." Although unclear what that means exactly, it could mean positive involvement of American Indians, tribes and other Indigenous Peoples in the development, hosting and running of the massive sporting event. There is a legitimate chance that lacrosse may again be an Olympic sport in 2024, so there's real potential here for Indian Country.