Olympics-Denver, Lake Tahoe-area keen for 2022 Winter bid

NEW YORK Tue Nov 30, 2010 3:27pm EST

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NEW YORK Nov 30 (Reuters) - Denver and the Lake Tahoe area want to host the 2022 Winter Olympics but have been warned that any future United States bids are on hold pending a new revenue sharing deal with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The long-running dispute over revenue sharing was seen as a major factor in Chicago's failure to win the right to host the 2016 Summer Olympics and U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) officials fear any future attempts will be doomed unless a solution was found.

"We would both like to get the revenue sharing off the table as soon as we can," USOC chief Scott Blackmun told the Reuters Global Media Summit on Tuesday.

"We'd like to start discussions in early 2011."

The U.S. currently gets the single biggest share of revenue paid by top sponsors at 20 percent and the largest share of overall broadcast television revenue at 12.75 percent.

The IOC wants to renegotiate those revenue splits so international federations and other national Olympic committees get a higher percentage of the money but have yet to reach an agreement.

The U.S. has not hosted an Olympics since 2002, when Salt Lake City held the Winter Games.

With the 2014 and 2016 Olympic sites already decided and the U.S. not in the running for the 2018 Winter Games, the earliest the Games could return to the U.S. would be 2020.

Several U.S. cities have expressed interest in bidding for 2020 but the USOC has not indicated whether they are likely to launch a formal bid. However, Blackmun said Denver and the Tahoe area, which last hosted a Winter Games 50 years ago at Squaw Valley, had both indicated they were keen to host the 2022 Winter Games, which will be decided in 2015.

"I think a U.S.-based Olympic games is good for America and good for the Olympics. Eighteen years is a long gap," Blackmun said.

In addition to solving the revenue problem, Blackmun said he and USOC president Larry Probst were aware the USOC also needed to improve its relationship with international Olympic officials and working hard at mending some of the problems.

"We're trying to be engaged, have a presence," Blackmun said.

"Larry (Probst) and I were both in Guangzhou (China) for the Asian Games a few weeks ago. We're traveling to Europe two or three times a year at least so people can get to know who we are."

At the Asian Games, Probst announced a four-year agreement with the Olympic Council of Asia for athlete exchanges, training and development.

In September, a bilateral agreement with Brazil was announced for an athletes exchange ahead of the 2016 Games.

"The relationship business is long term, not short term," he said. "If we want to be more engaged internationally, particularly with the international federations, we need to start laying the groundwork for that now for changes that might occur in five years or 10 years."

"We can't parachute leaders into federations."

There have already been some signs of a thawing in relations between the USOC and the IOC with the U.S. chosen to host the Women in Sport conference in Los Angeles in 2012 and the IOC Athletes Commission meeting in Colorado Springs in 2011.

"I think getting more of the international federation-involved people into the United States is a first step," he said.

(Editing by Julian Linden; To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)

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