USOC will visit Chicago, San Francisco, L.A. this week

SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Olympic Committee will begin a
three-day tour -- starting with Chicago on Wednesday -- of the three
national finalists bidding to host the 2016 Games.

USOC officials will visit San Francisco on Thursday and Los
Angeles on Friday.

Each city already submitted initial Olympic Games plans, which
has been reviewed by the Applicant City Technical Team. The team
visited cities bidding for the games in May before narrowing the
field down from five.

Houston and Philadelphia were eliminated in July.

The purpose of this second round of tours is to go over
revisions to each city's application and begin reshaping the bids
to better position the cities for competition on an international

Observers have said this is the United States' best shot at
landing the Olympic Games in years. The country last hosted a
Summer Games in 1996 in Atlanta.

The USOC is expected to decide by the end of the year whether to
submit an American bid for the 2016 Games.

"We're still working on the larger question of whether or not
we'll proceed with the U.S. bid," said USOC spokesman Darryl
Seibel. "If we do, we have set the end of March 2007 as the time
frame to have the U.S. city selected."

If San Francisco wins the bid, city officials said they plan to
build a new stadium and housing for athletes by the city's
waterfront that would later be used as apartments.

Los Angeles, on the other hand, still has stadiums and water
parks left over from the 1932 and 1984 Olympics to meet most of the
Olympic Games' needs, officials there said.

Chicago, meanwhile, promised support from corporations, compact
events near downtown and mass transit.

The International Olympic Committee is expected to chose the
site of the 2016 Games in 2009.