September 24, 2014 at 4:35 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
D.C. 2024 Olympics bid lacks LGBT board member
2024 Olympics, gay news, Washington Blade

2012 Summer Olympics Parade of Nations. (Photo by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

A campaign launched by a newly formed organization of prominent business and civic leaders to advocate for holding the 2024 Olympics in the Washington, D.C. metro area enjoys the support of the local LGBT sports community, according to longtime LGBT sports activists Brent Minor and Vince Micone.

“We are all for the Olympics in D.C.,” said Minor, executive director of Team D.C., an umbrella coalition of LGBT sports groups and teams in the D.C. area.

But gay activist and blogger Michael Rogers has expressed concern that no out LGBT person was selected to serve on the 19-member board of Washington2024, the group that’s preparing an Olympic bid for the D.C. area before the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Rogers said he opposes having the Olympics here on grounds that it would be a “financial disaster.” However, he said having an LGBT member on the Washington2024 board would better showcase the group’s claim on its newly launched website that it represents the full diversity of the people of the D.C. area.

Penny Lee, Washington2024’s communications director, told the Washington Blade on Tuesday that the composition of the group’s board is still evolving and more people would be named to the board in the coming weeks and months.

“We’re continuing to find ways in which to engage all communities and be as diverse as absolutely possible,” she said.

Minor and Micone, who played a lead role in D.C.’s unsuccessful bid for the 2014 Gay Games, said they know some of the Washington2024 board members and supporters and believe the organization will be fully supportive of the LGBT community.

Among the board members are former D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams, a longtime LGBT rights supporter; and Paul Tagliabue, former commissioner of the National Football League and chair of the Georgetown University board. Tagliabue contributed $1 million in 2011 for an LGBT student life program at Georgetown and contributed $100,000 for the referendum campaign supporting Maryland’s same-sex marriage law in 2012.

Minor noted that Bob Sweeny, the former director of the Greater Washington Sports Authority and a lead adviser for Washington2024, was a strong supporter of the effort to bring the Gay Games to D.C. Minor and Micone called Sweeny a strong LGBT community ally who would push for LGBT inclusion in an Olympics bid.

“I don’t interpret the board’s makeup as a slight,” Minor said. “I’m certain that if the time comes that D.C. wins the Olympic bid they will be fully inclusive of the LGBT community.”

Micone echoed Minor’s sentiment, saying he too is certain that the Washington2024 organization will work closely with LGBT sports activists in its effort to secure D.C.’s selection by the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Under longstanding procedures for selecting an Olympic Games host in the U.S., the U.S. Olympic Committee solicits bids from interested U.S. cities. In the current process, the committee has narrowed its selection to four cities or regions – the D.C. metro region, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco. A selection of one of those cities is expected to be made sometime next year.

Whichever city is selected by the U.S. Olympic Committee would then compete with cities in other countries, with the International Olympic Committee making a final selection at a later date.

Jay Fissette, chair of the Arlington County Board who’s gay, has also spoken out in favor of bringing the 2024 Olympics to the D.C. metro area.

“We agree with Washington2024 that this is an historic opportunity for our region to be part of the Olympic movement,” Fissette told Channel 4 News.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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