CHICAGO With the 2008 Beijing Games 116 days away, some 110 U.S. Olympians and hopefuls have converged in Chicago for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Media Summit.
The pre-Games preview involves American athletes or coaches from nearly all the 29 sports to be contested this summer. Featured Beijing-bound Olympic medalists include swimmer Michael Phelps, longtime basketball standout Lisa Leslie, women's soccer star Abby Wambach and softball pitcher Jennie Finch, while baseball's Davey Johnson and basketball's Mike Krzyzewski and Anne Donovan headline the Olympic team coaches.
Besides the three days of news-conference sessions, one-on-one interviews and photo shoots, top USOC officials will take their turn, likely to be asked for their responses to recent calls for ceremony boycotts, concerns about restricting an athlete's opportunity to speak out and other timely topics leading up to the Beijing Games.
Also front and center will be Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and officials from Chicago 2016, the U.S. bid city seeking to host the 2016 Summer Games. Chicago is competing against Tokyo; Madrid; Rio de Janeiro; Prague, Czech Republic; Doha, Qatar; and Baku, Azerbaijan.
Besides making their pitch in a scheduled session, Chicago 2016 hoped to attract addition media attention with invitations to a Sunday tour of the city's projected venue locations and a Tuesday night rooftop reception overlooking Wrigley Field as the Chicago Cubs play their first night game of the 2008 season.
The USOC has conducted such preview events for more than two decades, the first five held at its headquarters in Colorado Springs. The previews then moved to American cities that either were future Games hosts, bid cities or bid hopefuls.
After being awarded the 2002 Winter Olympics, Salt Lake City hosted two USOC media summits in 1997 before the '98 Nagano Games and in 2001, prior to the '02 Salt Lake Games.In junction with this week's Media Summit, the USOC will announce this year's Hall of Fame inductees and its 2007 USOC coach of the year and unveil its line of athletic apparel for the '08 American Olympians.