Winter Olympic hopefuls present case in Samoa

Updated: March 23, 2007, 12:08 AM ET
Associated Press

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa -- Delegations from the three cities hoping to host the 2014 Winter Olympics were set to present bid proposals Friday to the Oceania National Olympic Committee, holding its annual meeting in American Samoa.

Representatives from Sochi, Russia; Salzburg, Austria; and Pyeongchang, South Korea, started arriving in Pago Pago early this week, along with a seven-member delegation from China, host of the 2008 Summer Games.

Although tiny American Samoa is not a significant Olympic competitor, it has an Olympic committee, headed by Ben Solaita, who said the territory will be sending athletes to compete in Beijing.

"It may seem odd to some people, but not to us" that the bids are being heard in the island territory, Solaita said.

Solaita said the bidding process has brought 117 new visitors to the island, which does not have a major tourism industry. The majority of them are delegates from various countries under the Oceania committee, he said.

All are staying at the Clarion Tradewinds Hotel, also the site of the bid presentations and the international committee's annual meeting.

"ONOC is committed to giving each country and territory under its umbrella a chance to host various sporting events and conferences, and this is American Samoa's great chance," Solaita said.

Sochi will present its case to host the 2014 games first, followed by Salzburg and then Pyeongchang, according to the schedule.

None of the bid details have been released yet and officials representing each city have declined to discuss their bids in advance.

The Pyeongchang Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Bid Committee, led by Kim Jin-sun, Governor of Gangwon Province and executive president for the bid, will present the potential benefits for sports in the Pacific region for hosting the 2014 Winter Games in Asia, according to the committee's news release.

The International Olympic Committee is to select the host city on July 4 during its session in Guatemala City.

The Sochi delegation put out a news release saying it was brining Russia's "snowy Olympic vision to the furthest corner of the South Pacific, bridging the gap between summer and winter countries and highlighting Sochi's enormous potential to impact the Olympic Movement for generations to come."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press