LONDON (AP) IOC President Thomas Bach welcomed the U.S. decision to bid for the 2024 Olympics, saying Wednesday that whichever city is put forward will be a ''very strong'' contender in what is shaping up as a high-profile global race.
The International Olympic Committee is eager to have a solid bid from the United States, which is looking to host the Summer Games for the first time in nearly three decades.
The U.S. Olympic Committee board voted Tuesday in favor of a bid after hearing presentations from the four candidates - Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington. The board decided to weigh the choices over the holidays before selecting its bid city.
''A bid from the United States would be very strong, regardless of which of the cities is finally chosen,'' Bach said in a statement to The Associated Press. ''Each of the four cities has its own very special appeal.''
Los Angeles hosted the 1932 and 1984 Olympics. The other three cities would be first-time hosts.
The U.S., which provides most of the IOC's television and sponsorship revenues, hasn't hosted the Summer Olympics since the 1996 Atlanta Games. New York failed in a bid for the 2012 Olympics, and Chicago was rejected for 2016.
''U.S. athletes have a world-wide reputation and topped the medal table at the last Olympic Games in London,'' Bach said. ''Those athletes will be a huge asset for the bid.''
USOC leaders have said the IOC has encouraged them to try for 2024, and there is a sense the American bid would start as a favorite.
The U.S. is the third country so far to declare its intent to bid. Italy announced this week that Rome, host of the 1960 Olympics, will be a candidate. Germany is deciding between Hamburg and Berlin.
France is likely to approve a Paris bid next year. Paris lasted hosted the Olympics in 1924.
Other potential contenders include Doha, Qatar; Istanbul, Turkey; Baku, Azerbaijan; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Budapest, Hungary; and a city or region in South Africa.
The 2024 campaign is moving into full swing after the IOC approved new rules designed to make the bidding process cheaper and more flexible.
The IOC will launch an ''invitation phase'' on Jan. 15 to discuss bid plans with interested countries and cities. The idea is to allow cities to tailor the games to their own needs to avoid costly venues and white elephants.
The deadline for the formal submission of bids is Sept. 15, 2015. The host city will be selected by the IOC in 2017 in Lima, Peru.