OLYMPICS/jb/10 inches/1stjc/mark2nd

JOE BEL BRUNO Staff Writer

Olympic Sam might be making a return tour of Los Angeles but don’t hold your breath. We’re talking at least 11 years from now.

Members of the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games are already taking steps to promote L.A. as a possible site for competition in 2008 or 2012.

The first hurdle is getting the support of the United States Olympic Committee.

“Nobody is even sure if the U.S. will make a bid for 2008 because it’s too close to Atlanta and the 2002 Winter Games is in Salt Lake City,” said Harry Usher, who was formerly second in command to Peter Ueberroth when the 1984 games were held in L.A. and the Olympic Sam eagle character was the mascot.

“But if a decision is made to make a run for 2008, then we want to be on the radar screen,” he said. “If anything, it will position us for 2012.”

The USOC board of directors will hold a mail vote next month among its 112 members on whether to put forth a candidate for 2008. Ballots will be sent to the directors on April 25, asking them to vote on whether the USOC should sponsor cities for the 2008 and 2012 Olympics and the 2008 Pan American Games.

The ballots are due back by June 15. If the 2008 bid is approved, the USOC will select a candidate in 1998. The International Olympic Committee would then make a final decision on a host city in October 2001.

Other cities that have expressed interest for 2008 include Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Seattle, New York and San Francisco.

L.A. would certainly be in the mix to get the nomination among its U.S. competitors, said David Simon of the Los Angeles Sports Council.

“The contention now is that the International Olympic Committee is looking at either China, South America or somewhere in Africa to hold the games,” said Simon, a former vice president for the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee. “But, L.A. would be an ideal place to host them. We ran the most successful Olympics in history, and we can do it again.”

By then, he said, L.A. should have a new football stadium and new sports arena that could be used to host events. Should the U.S. host the games in 2008, it would be the fourth Olympics since 1980: Lake Placid (1980), Los Angeles (1984), Atlanta (1996) and Salt Lake City, scheduled for the winter of 2002.

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