San Diego will submit a bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, but it will not be doing it alone.
Tijuana will join San Diego on a joint application to host the Games in more than a decade from now.
Stories about the partnership first surfaced when San Diego mayor Bob Filner opened his administration’s new office in Tijuana in February.
Last weekend, the Associated Press reported that the San Diego-Tijuana metro area was one of 10 locations that the United States Olympic Committee is having active conversations with about the bidding process.
An official announcement from Filner’s office in San Diego and outgoing Tijuana mayor Carlos Bustamante introducing both city’s Olympic committees is expected sometime in the next week or so.
USOC chief executive Scott Blackburn was unwilling to disclose the other nine cities that the he has been in communication with to the AP, but there is speculation to what those other cities are.
Dallas, Los Angeles, Tulsa and Philadelphia have all expressed interest in hosting the 2024 Summer Olympics. Like San Diego-Tijuana, Washington and Baltimore will be submitting a joint bid to host the Games.
And it was reported last August that Toronto and Buffalo are considering a binational bid as well.
This is not the first time that San Diego-Tijuana has submitted a bid to the USOC. The region also applied to host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. That bid, however, was not even considered by the USOC at the time. The USOC application to the International Olympic Committee eventually went to Chicago, which lost to Rio de Janiero in the final application process back in 2009.
“That would have its challenges,” Blackburn told the AP about the possibility of a co-hosted Olympics. “We haven’t looked at it carefully. We just learned about it.”
It seems like the City of San Diego is just as serious about its application this time around. Over the weekend, Filner proposed that former Republican Presidential candidate and Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney lead the San Diego-Tijuana bid.
Prior to becoming governor of Massachusetts, Romney was the head the 2002 Winter Olympic Games held in Salt Lake City.
“Wouldn’t he give instant credibility to it?” Filner told the AP. “He has some experience with Olympics.”
Most see this as an opportunity for Filner to build a stronger relationship with Tijuana, the Mexican border town just 16 miles away from downtown San Diego. That was one of Filner’s campaign promises when he ran for mayor last year. Creating a City of San Diego Office in Tijuana is seen as the first step.
Calling for a joint Olympic bid with Tijuana is also seen as Filner’s willingness to broaden the San Diego metro area to include Tijuana, which he has said in the past will help boost both city’s economies.
“At every level we can think of,” Filner told the Union-Tribune last November, “we’re going to increase the relationships and make real the fact that we talk about dos ciudades y una region (two cities and one region).”
The application process for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games will formally begin in 2015 with a host being selected in 2017.
If San Diego-Tijuana do win the 2024 Olympic Games, it will not be the first time that a major international sporting event was held in two different countries.
The world of soccer brings numerous examples. The 2002 FIFA World Cup was co-hosted by South Korea and Japan. The UEFA European Football Championships have had dual hosts three times since the turn of the century. Belgium and the Netherlands were the first co-hosts back in 2000, followed by Austria and Switzerland in 2008 and Poland and Ukraine in 2012. The 2020 European Championship will be held in 13 different countries.
San Diego-Tijuana will not be alone in bidding as a binational entity. Poland and Slovakia are looking to submit a dual-host application for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games and are planning to host events in four different cities.