Olympics-US eyes 'most important decade' for sports


U.S. gymnast Brody Malone poses for a portrait during the Team USA media summit ahead of the Paris Olympics and Paralympics, at an event in New York, U.S., April 15, 2024. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. has the opportunity to promote its values at home and abroad over the next 10 years as it hosts a slew of major international sporting events, Olympic and government officials said on Monday.

The U.S. will host Copa America this year, the World Cup with Canada and Mexico in 2026, the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028 and possibly the Winter Olympics in Utah in 2034, among other competitions.

"This very well may be the single most important decade in sport in this country, and we see a massive obligation and an incredible opportunity," Sarah Hirshland, CEO of the United States Olympic Committee, said at a media summit on Monday.

"We feel an opportunity and in some sense a duty to really bring forth and remind this country why we love sport," she added later during a roundtable discussion with reporters.

"The values, behaviors and the skills that it teaches us as individual human beings, especially as young people, but also the communities and the connections it creates.

"We see the importance of human connection, the importance of physical fitness, and you can weave a thread through all of that with sport.

"But we haven't seen it in our country in the breadth of its diversity the way we will around a big, multi-sport, global event like the Games."

The U.S. State Department is also hoping to capitalise on the moment to burnish the nation's image overseas while sharing its values, Assistant Secretary Lee Satterfield told Reuters in an email.

"The next decade of international sporting events is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the United States to elevate sports as a diplomatic platform," she said.

"Bringing people together, exposing our commonality and humanity, and capturing the moment - from economic opportunity and equity to inclusion - to promote peace and to ignite the Olympic spirit for generations to come."

Hirshland said what sets the U.S. apart from the rest of the world on the Olympic playing field and geopolitically is its size and achievement.

"We're the biggest," she said. "And we've been historically the best and that earns you influence. But it also mandates an obligation to lead with humility."

(Reporting by Rory Carroll in New York; Editing by Jamie Freed)

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