This past Tuesday the USOC announced that the U.S. would not submit a bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. This decision signaled that the U.S. would likely shoot instead for a 2024 Summer Olympics instead. With the USA last having hosted an Olympics in 1996 and perhaps more importantly having resolved their longstanding funding dispute with the IOC it’s hard not to see the USA being a pretty big favorite to win that bid.
The benefits of a USA hosted Olympics has for a struggling minor sport federation like USA Team Handball are hard to understate. The biggest benefit, of course, is the automatic qualification hosting provides. That reality has real tangible benefits in terms of recruiting, funding, and exposure.
Twelve years may seem like a long ways away, but this very real possibility of a USA Olympics will start to impact USA Team Handball sooner than you might think. Let’s review the timing of how events might unfold backwards. The IOC has selected the city 7 years out and the USOC has generally had a winnowing of the field:
2024 USA based Olympics
2017 IOC selects host city
2016 USOC selects candidate city for IOC consideration
2015 USOC narrows candidate cities
Now: Cities start exploring the possibilities and forming Organizing Committees.
Some decisions and possibilities that a USA based Olympics might present:
USA National Championships Location: Don’t be surprised if as soon as next year the National Championships are hosted in one of the candidate cities. These cities will be looking for any angle to separate themselves from the competition and willingness to even host minor a event can be looked upon favorably.
Regional Training Center Location: Don’t be surprised if a candidate city provides a little generosity in terms of incentives to become a home for one of USATH’s proposed Centers of Excellence. Again, anything to look a little better than the competition.
National Training Center Location: In 2016, when the U.S. candidate is chosen there will surely be plenty of talk as to whether USATH will relocate there as was done in Atlanta for the 96 Olympics. The advantages in terms of sponsorship opportunities, host city support and the local buzz are significant.
Sponsorship Funding: With the sport being played on USA soil there will be more companies looking to get their name tied in with the Olympics. It gets a little crowded at USA Swimming, USA Basketball, etc, so USA Team Handball will get opportunities that would never materialize if there wasn’t a USA Olympics on the horizon
USOC Support: The USOC ties most of their funding to the likelihood of medaling, but there’s also no desire for any team to be embarrassed on home soil. No guarantees here, but more support from the USOC is likely.
Improved Recruiting Opportunities: With each passing year, recruiting quality athletes will get a little bit easier. Even today, a 15 year old athlete, if encouraged to do a little addition (15+12=27) might be a little more willing to stick with the sport. As the Olympics approaches it will become even easier. Around the 2021-2022 mark it will be remarkably easier to get great crossover athletes to try the sport. (But, who knows, maybe by that time our improved athlete development programs will have us saying thanks, but no thanks, go try some other sport.)
So, there are some definite possibilities going forward, but we shouldn’t get too excited just yet. As NYC 2012 and Chicago 2016 will attest there are no guarantees and the 2017 selection is still a long ways away.
3 Wire Sports: USOC: no for 2022, go (maybe) for 2024 or 2026: http://3wiresports.com/2012/07/03/usoc-no-for-2022-go-maybe-for-2024-or-2026/