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Could 'Empire City of the South' play host to 2024 summer games?

11:58 PM, Feb 21, 2013   |    comments
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The Olympic rings on display outside Adler Airport near Sochi, Russia, site of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. (Getty Images)

ATLANTA, Ga. -- It's an intriguing thought -- Atlanta could be hosting summer Olympic games. It's, actually, a possibility.

Atlanta and 34 other cities now have the chance to tell the U. S Olympic Committee they want to submit a bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics.

Is it the right time for Atlanta to step up? It was September 18, 1990 and Atlanta was put on the center of the world map. The city was picked to host the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games.

It brought more than 10,000 athletes from 197 countries to Atlanta and generated more than $5 billion in revenue. But that was seventeen years ago.

Now, with the olympic rings and torch still in place adjacent to Turner Field, and all the basics in place, could Atlanta again become the center of the World for the 2024 Olympics?

Logistically, the city has met the Olympic Committee objectives.

  • More than 45,000 hotel rooms 
  • A world class international airport 
  • A first-rate ground transit system
  • And an available workforce of more than 200,000 people

Nathan Deal, Georgia's governor, says it's an opportunity not to dismiss out of hand.

"Its an interesting idea and I think probably worth our discussion," he said.

But Charlie Battle, a key organizer of the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games and now a consultant to cities around the world making Olympic Bids, doesn't see Atlanta in the final mix.

"Its a good opportunity for this country. I don't think it's the right opportunity at the right time for the City of Atlanta. I think we have other things we can do. We've been there and done that," he said.

Critics of the '96 Atlanta Games look back at transit and traffic snarls, computer glitches and accusations of over-commercialization, while supporters point to a big economic windfall, significant development and construction in the areas surrounding Centennial Olympic Park, and extensive use of Olympic housing for university students.

Still to weigh in on a possible bid, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

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