U.S. Olympic Committee leaders took what they characterized as an important step toward bidding for the 2024 Summer Games, meeting this week with representatives of four cities interested in serving as host.
The USOC has yet to commit to submitting an American bid but said it was encouraged after inviting the shortlisted cities to its headquarters in Colorado Springs.
Los Angeles sent Mayor Eric Garcetti, influential businessman Casey Wasserman -- who has become point man for the city's effort -- along with deputy mayor Doane Liu and sports law attorney Jon Oram.
Boston's contingent included Mayor Martin Walsh. Larry Baer, president of the Giants, helped represent San Francisco. Washington sent business leader Russ Ramsey.
"This week marks another important milestone as we evaluate whether the time is right to bid for the Olympic and Paralympic Games," USOC Chief Executive Scott Blackmun said Friday in a statement. "We've tried to create a thoughtful and deliberate process and I think everyone involved believes we are getting closer to a decision."
The four candidates emerged from 16-month process during which the USOC reached out to 35 cities. Olympic officials have visited each of the finalists and will continue hold discussions with them in the months ahead.
The ultimate decision could depend on the outcome of the International Olympic Committee's "Olympic Agenda 2020," a set of guidelines addressing bid procedures, among other things. The IOC is scheduled to finalize that document later this year.
USOC officials expect to decide on a 2024 bid -- and potentially select a city -- in early 2015. The IOC deadline for submitting bids will probably be set for later in the year, and a final selection is expected in 2017.