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REDWOOD CITY, California (Reuters) - The United States will bid for the 2024 Olympics, seeking to host the Summer Games for the first time since 1996, the country's Olympic committee said on Tuesday.
Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston and Washington are under consideration as sites and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) said it expects to make a final decision in January.
"We're so lucky to have four great cities ... they all have compelling strengths," USOC Chief Executive Scott Blackmun said during a news conference. "We need to have a discussion of the pros and cons of each individual city."
USOC Chairman Larry Probst said the next step in the process would be to assemble the USOC board of directors again in January.
"Hopefully in the early part of next year we will reach a final decision about the city that we will take to move forward as our candidate city," Probst added.
"This is going to be a really, really difficult decision and that's why we want to take our time and make sure that we get to the best possible decision."
Los Angeles is considered the front-runner among the four U.S. finalists, having hosted the 1932 and 1984 Olympics. Boston, San Francisco and Washington would be first-time hosts.
Asked if there was one factor that could make the difference in deciding on the successful candidate city, Probst replied: "It's a combination of things.
"It's leadership, it's the support in the local community both politically, from the business community and educational institutions ... obviously the venue plan is important."
The United States, which is the third country after Germany and Italy to officially launch a bidding process, has not held the Summer Games since 1996 when Atlanta was the host. The Winter Games were in Salt Lake City in 2002.
Istanbul, Doha, Baku, Budapest, Paris and an African city are among others who could potentially bid. Cities have until next September to officially put in a bid with a decision on the 2024 host to be made in mid-2017.
The USOC has spent years patching up strained relationships with the International Olympic Committee over revenue sharing that hampered the last two U.S. bids for the Summer Games.
Chicago went out the opening round of voting for 2016, won by Rio de Janeiro. New York lost in the second round of a five-city final for 2012, won by London.
Reporting by Rory Carroll; Writing by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Frank Pingue