The U.S. Olympic Committee will not bid for the 2022 Winter Games, but will instead explore the possibility of hosting either the 2024 Summer or 2026 Winter Olympics.
In a meeting Tuesday, the USOC board decided to form a committee that would look into 2024 and 2026, in part because going for the 2022 Games would put the federation on a fast timeline. A bid for those games would be due in the fall of 2013.
"It's not so much about bidding for 2022 as what strategy gives us the best chance to submit a winning bid," CEO Scott Blackmun said. "Looking at 2024 and 2026 gives us the best chance to do that. It allows us to form partnerships with all the people who need to be involved in a bid. That would allow us to put our best foot forward."
Earlier this year, the USOC removed a major roadblock for another bid when it resolved a long-simmering feud over revenue sharing with the International Olympic Committee.
Blackmun said he would be surprised if the USOC didn't bid for either 2024 or 2026.
"We think hosting the Games is very important for us," he said.
Last week, an exploratory committee in Denver recommended the city move forward on plans for a 2022 bid. Spokeswoman Sue Baldwin said it was "too early for us to know" how the USOC news would affect the Denver effort.
"We're disappointed," Baldwin said. "We knew that was a possibility, knowing the time frame and knowing we were getting close to the September 2013 submission date. We respect the process and respect that they want to be thoughtful with moving forward. We want to talk to them and see what their next steps might be."
The United States hasn't hosted a Summer Games since 1996 or a Winter Games since 2002, meaning there will be at least a 22-year gap between games on U.S. soil.
The U.S. has been embarrassed during its last two attempts to land the Olympics. New York finished fourth of five finalists when it tried for the 2012 Games, which start in London this month. Chicago finished last in bidding for the 2016 Games, which were awarded to Rio de Janeiro. When Chicago lost, the USOC was widely criticized as contributing heavily to the loss because of its poor international reputation.
"This gives us further time to develop relationships with the IOC," chairman Larry Probst said, speaking to the fact that these bids are won as much through relationships as the pros and cons of the cities themselves.
One of the major questions the USOC must decide is whether to go for a Summer Games, widely viewed as more prestigious and harder to land, or a Winter Olympics, where the bidding is less competitive.
The committee will likely be made from members of the current board and will report to the board at its quarterly meeting in December.
There almost certainly would not be a domestic bidding process, the way there was when Chicago was tabbed as the 2016 candidate. Among the possible candidates for a 2024 Olympics could be Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco or Dallas, which was thought to be the front-runner had the USOC picked a city for a 2020 bid.