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USOC narrows private list of 2024 Olympic bid cities

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The U.S. Olympic Committee trimmed its list of candidates for a potential 2024 Olympic bid on Tuesday but did not disclose which cities were chosen.

The USOC will probably make a public announcement in the next 10 days, after taking the next few days to communicate with the smaller group of cities individually.

“We’re not prepared to get into any specifics or details today, other than to say we had a great discussion, and we’re going to be moving forward with some really fantastic candidates,” USOC chairman Larry Probst said after a board of directors meeting in Boston, one of the cities that has expressed interest in bidding for 2024.

The other cities reported to be in the running were Dallas, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington. In May, Probst said the short list would probably be two or three cities.

The 2024 process, which began with the USOC sending letters to 35 mayors in February 2013, has been kept private to encourage participation from the cities, USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said.

“What we’re trying to do is create an opportunity to have open, meaningful conversations with these cities in a context where they don’t have to be public,” Blackmun said. “I don’t think any of the cities that we’re going to be talking to in the next six months have made unequivocal decisions that they want to stay in [2024 bidding].”

The U.S. has not hosted an Olympics since the 2002 Winter Games and is in the midst of its largest gap between hosting since the 28-year stretch between 1932 and 1960.

The U.S. has not committed to a bid for 2024 yet, and it said it will not decide until the outcome of Agenda 2020.

Agenda 2020, a blueprint introduced by IOC president Thomas Bach shortly after his election last year, includes the review of Olympic host city bidding procedures.

A finalized Agenda 2020 is expected to go up for IOC approval in December. The USOC has said it hopes to decide if it will bid, and, if it does, which city, by the end of this year.

“We clearly want to see the output from that [Agenda 2020] working group and what changes are adopted before we push the go button on formalizing a bid on 2024,” Probst said.

The next steps for a USOC bid team will be to perform what Blackmun called “deeper due diligence” on the short list of cities. The USOC wants to make sure each city can deliver Games essentials and big-ticket items such as an Olympic Stadium, Olympic Village and media centers.

The bid team will visit the short list of cities and provide an update to the board of directors at a September meeting.

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Pyeongchang Olympic organizers optimistic with 500 days to go

Security personnel stands by a logo of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games before an event to mark the start of the 500-day countdown in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016. With 500 days until the Olympic cauldron is ignited in Pyeongchang, organizers of the 2018 Winter Games say 90 percent of construction on new venues is complete and the focus of preparations is on test events. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Marking the 500-day countdown to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, organizers said Tuesday that 90 percent of construction of new venues is complete and the focus is now on preparing for test events.

Pyeongchang’s organizing committee said construction is on schedule for a series of sports competitions scheduled from November to April that will serve as rehearsals for the Olympics, which begin Feb. 9, 2018.

The six new competition venues for the games are now 88 percent complete and a new high-speed rail line – designed to link the country’s main gateway of Incheon airport with Pyeongchang in less than two hours – will be completed next June and start operations in January 2018, organizers said.

The preparations are undergoing a transition from the “planning phase to operational readiness,” the organizing committee said in a statement.

“Asia has immeasurable potential to become the frontier of winter sports. Pyeongchang has been dedicated to promote winter sports and attract investments throughout Asia,” the committee said.

Noting that the 2018 Games will be the first of three consecutive Olympics in Asia, the committee said Pyeongchang will be an “opportunity to establish even closer links among the next host countries and build bridges through sports.”

Tokyo will host the 2020 Summer Olympics, while Beijing will stage the 2022 Winter Games.

Pyeongchang organizers have overcome delays, local conflicts over venue constructions and difficulties attracting domestic sponsorships in past years. Optimism over preparations has increased after the successful hosting of the first round of test events at Alpine venues earlier this year.

Despite a slow start, organizers say more than 80 percent of the domestic sponsorship target of $850 million has been met and that they expect to reach 90 percent of the target by the end of the year.

A program of cultural events featuring pop singers and local sports stars was held in Seoul on Tuesday evening to mark the start of the countdown.

MORE: 500 Days to Pyeongchang: Five athletes to watch

500 Days to Pyeongchang: Five athletes to watch

PARK CITY, UT - FEBRUARY 06:  Chloe Kim celebrates a first place finish in the ladies' FIS Snowboard World Cup at the 2016 U.S Snowboarding Park City Grand Prix on February 6, 2016 in Park City, Utah.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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Today marks 500 days until the Opening Ceremony of 2018 Winter Olympics.

Below are five U.S. athletes to get to know before February 9, 2018:

Ryan Bailey (Bobsled): Bailey, who finished fifth as a sprinter in the London Olympic 100m, is attempting to compete at the 2018 Olympics as a bobsledder. On Sept. 21, just weeks into his bobsled career, he won the men’s push athlete national title. The last male Summer Olympian to make a U.S. Olympic bobsled team was Willie Davenport in 1980.

MORE: Converted sprinter Ryan Bailey wins bobsled national title

Brittany Bowe and Heather Richardson (Speed Skating): Bowe and Richardson have been trading world records in recent years. Last November, Bowe broke her own women’s 1000m world record, only to have Richardson lower it just three minutes later. A week later, Bowe broke the world record in the event once again.

MORE: Dan Jansen explains recent flurry of world records

Meryl Davis and Charlie White (Figure Skating): The future is uncertain for Davis and White, who became the first U.S. couple to win an Olympic ice dance title in Sochi. They have not competed since the 2014 Olympics, but they have also not announced their retirement.

MORE: Where Meryl Davis, Charlie White stand on possible comeback

Chloe Kim (Snowboarding): Kim mathematically qualified for the 2014 U.S. Olympic team in halfpipe, but at 13, she was not old enough to be eligible to compete in Sochi. A U.S. woman has won gold in the event at three of the past four Olympics, but Kaitlyn Farrington, who won halfpipe gold in Sochi, retired after being diagnosed with a spinal condition.

MORE: Kaitlyn Farrington retires from snowboarding

Mikaela Shiffrin (Alpine Skiing): Shiffrin became the youngest Olympic slalom champion at the 2014 Games, when she was 18. Four years later, she is hoping to become the first Alpine skier — man or woman — to repeat as slalom gold medalist. She also could become the first U.S. women’s Alpine skier to win gold medals in multiple Olympics.