Olympic delegates assess New York

Posted: Tuesday, February 22, 2005

NEW YORK (AP) — The city, digging out from a snowstorm, rolled out a warm welcome Monday for the 13 delegates charged with helping select a host city for the 2012 Olympics.

''Nice to see you. Welcome,'' Mayor Michael Bloomberg told the International Olympic Committee evaluation commission delegates during a meet-and-greet ceremony at the Plaza Hotel. He later joked that the blanket of snow positioned the city to also make a bid for the Winter Games.

Bloomberg, accompanied by U.S. Olympic Committee chairman Peter Ueberroth, shook hands with the delegates in a conference room that bore an NYC2012 logo on the floor. Each delegate carried a thick ''2012'' binder.

They arrived at the Plaza on Sunday night, greeted by flag-waving supporters of New York's bid to host the 2012 Summer Games.

The evaluation commission is in town for a final round of scrutiny, evaluating the five cities still in the running for the Olympics. The group already toured Madrid and London, with Moscow and Paris left to visit. The IOC will weigh the evaluators' findings and announce its decision July 6.

Officials from New York's Olympic bid committee took over the second floor of the storied hotel on Monday, where chandeliers hung amid signs highlighting the city's historic role as a host to people of all nations. ''People will speak your language. ... Families will welcome families,'' the messages said.

The committee showed the delegates a video featuring New Yorkers from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds, according to Jay Kriegel, executive director of NYC2012.

''They're looking at your capability to host the games and your ability to pull off a great games,'' Kriegel said. ''We are confident we can do that.''

He noted it was more than a decade since the idea of New York hosting the Olympics was conceived. ''We're delighted this day has come,'' he said.

Across the street in Central Park, which had received at least 5 inches of snow overnight, stood the bright orange ''Gates'' exhibit by artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude.

The city is already swathed in Olympic logos and signs promoting its bid. Billboards, bus shelters and street poles are decorated, along with subway cars, buses and taxis.

Monday's events also included a pep rally — without the IOC delegates — near the famed Rockefeller Center skating rink, which sported an NYC2012 logo beneath its ice. Scores of people were handed pro-Olympic signs and flags to wave.

''Who's got Olympic fever?'' Bloomberg asked. The crowd responded with a loud cheer.

The mayor was accompanied by swimmer Janet Evans and gymnast Bart Conner, past U.S. Olympians. ''There would be no better place for the Olympics than New York City,'' Conner said.

On Tuesday, former Sen. Bill Bradley, a 1964 basketball gold medalist, will address the IOC group. Committee members were also scheduled to visit a variety of proposed venues for the games, but they will not speak publicly about New York's bid until the visit is completed Thursday.

Still to be decided is the fate of the biggest of the city's proposed Olympic venues — a stadium on Manhattan's West Side that has attracted strong opposition from some New Yorkers.



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