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O'Malley backs bid for D.C. Olympics in 2024

Gov. Martin O'Malley on Thursday put his support behind efforts to bring the 2024 Olympics to the greater Washington-D.C. area.

The term-limited governor added his voice to that of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray in backing the endeavor, which could cost billions if approved.

Washington is competing with Boston, New York and San Francisco to convince officials with U.S. Olympic Committee that the city is the country's best shot at winning the games on an international stage.

In a statement, O'Malley touted the Summer 2024 Olympics as a way to create jobs and spur innovation in Maryland, and he spoke in lofty terms about the benefits of hosting the games.

"As one of the greatest sporting events our world has ever known, the Olympics is one of the best diplomatic tools we have to transcend the walls that divide us and provide a spark of hope for the next generation," said O'Malley, a Democrat. "Hosting the Olympics will foster a lasting sports, tourism and cultural legacy for our nation while also highlighting Maryland and the capital region's seamless coordination, strength, diversity, and vibrancy on the ultimate global stage."

O'Malley's comments followed the official website launch of the non-profit organization who is crafting Washington's bid. The group also announced Thursday its Board of Directors, which includes Kevin Plank, CEO and founder of Baltimore-based Under Armour.

O'Malley spokeswoman Nina Smith characterized O'Malley's support as part of the early backing of the concept, and not a commitment on whether the state would help pay for the games. Hosting Olympics can be costly: Russia spent more than $50 billion to host the Sochi Winter Olympics this year, and recent estimates put the price tag of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio at more than $15 billion.

Both candidates vying to succeed O'Malley said they also support bringing the Olympics to the Washington region.

Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, like O'Malley a Democrat, promised that "Maryland will be a great partner in this effort thanks to our world-class facilities and our dedication to building a modern and sustainable infrastructure."

Republican nominee Larry Hogan's campaign spokesman Adam Dubitsky said that a Hogan administration would help however it could to secure the games.

"It would be a great boon to the economy, and we'd absolutely support it and fight for it," Dubitsky said.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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