By Dustin Brown
New York Olympic organizers have leapt past the first hurdle in their effort to host the Games in 2012, winning a spot on the United States Olympic Committee’s short list of cities contending to be the American finalist in the international competition.
Out of eight American cities that submitted proposals to host the Summer Olympic Games in 2012, only San Francisco, Houston and Washington will advance with New York to the next round of the national selection process. A final candidate is scheduled to be chosen from among those four next fall.
Daniel Doctoroff, president of NYC 2012, the non-profit group that is leading the city’s bid effort, believes the Games would serve as a “catalyst” and a “capstone” to the rebuilding effort in New York following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.
But the city’s bid, which relies heavily on sites in Queens for the competition venues, was evaluated on its own merits without any consideration of the World Trade Center disaster, a spokesman for the USOC said.
Charles Moore, chairman of the bid selection committee, told a news conference Friday that “emotion did not play a part” in the decision, which he said was based on 13 criteria, including general infrastructure, sports infrastructure, the Olympic Village and transportation strategies.
Doctoroff said the decision was an “important milestone in the USOC selection process, which has been rigorous and comprehensive.”
The bid has received strong support from Mayor Giuliani and other city leaders.
“We’re very hopeful that New York will eventually be selected as the city to be chosen,” Giuliani said in a press conference following the announcement.
Although Borough President Claire Shulman strongly opposes plans to combine two lakes at Flushing Meadows Corona Park for Olympic water events, she stressed Monday that she is “not against the Olympics” coming to Queens.
The bid proposes the Queens West development in Hunter’s Point as the site of the Olympic Village, which would effectively turn the southernmost tip of the borough’s East River shore into the heart of the Games.
The central obstacle to having the Olympics in New York — how to get everyone around — has been solved, advocates say, with the Olympic “X,” a transportation system composed of trains running along an east-west axis and ferries running north-south, which would reach every sports venue and meet up at Queens West.
The borough would also be home to at least three major Olympic venues. Water competitions are slated for the Astoria Pool and Flushing Meadows — which would both undergo extensive renovation — and badminton and track cycling are planned for a community athletic facility that would be built directly south of the Queensboro Bridge.
Once a final city is selected by the USOC late next year, it will join a pool of cities around the world to be evaluated by the International Olympic Committee, which will choose in 2005 the host of the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 154.