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Mayor to pitch S.F.’s ‘green’ sensibilities

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Although San Francisco may sometimes be too liberal and eco-minded for the rest of the country, Mayor Gavin Newsom said The City’s progressive image will likely appeal to the international leaders who choose a 2016 Olympic host site.

With that in mind, when Newsom speaks to U.S. Olympic Committee officials today in La Jolla, he will pitch San Francisco as the ideal location for the “greenest Olympics in the history of the games.”

Within its 15-minute presentation, San Francisco’s delegation will showcase the Bay Area’s natural beauty, as well as connect the international sporting event with issues of global warming and sustainable living, Newsom told The Examiner.

Promoting an environmental angle to the Olympics will not be a feel-good measure, but smart strategy, since over the last decade the International Olympic Committee has embraced ecoprotection as part of the games, along with promoting sport and culture. In 1996, the IOC revised its mission charter to include “to encourage and support responsible concern for environmental issues, [and] to promote sustainable development.”

Scott Givens, the head of San Francisco’s exploratory committee for the 2016 games and a consultant for five previous Olympic games, said The City’s reputation as a haven for tree-huggers will be a selling point.

“When you look at San Francisco and its history of being at the vanguard of environmental causes, it’s an authentic place for San Francisco to speak from,” he said.

In addition to San Francisco, USOC officials will also meet with representatives from Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and Philadelphia — with each city limited to three delegates.

The five cities, the only ones under consideration for the United States bid, were also each asked to put together a written proposal that outlined their proposed venue plans, organizational structure and financial ability to host the international sporting event.

San Francisco, like other cities, has kept a tight lip on most of the details of their proposal in an effort to keep a competitive edge, but city officials have said that this plan — in contrast to the Bay Area’s bid for the 2012 games — will be centered on San Francisco.

“I can imagine the Golden Gate Bridge for a marathon, or the headlands for various events, or aquatics there in Treasure Island,” Newsom said.

The United States may choose not to bid for the 2016 Olympic Games, according to USOC officials, who have said they may make a decision by as early as the end of the year. The International Olympic Committee will make its host city selection in 2009.

Newsom said the unfavorable “way America is viewed internationally” could hurt other U.S. cities’ chances of being chosen by the International Olympic Committee, but not San Francisco’s.

“We’re an internationally identified city, and I think politics plays a big part of it,” Newsom said. “Houston would only reinforce Texas, but San Francisco always stands on its own.”

beslinger@examiner.com

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