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May 7 (Reuters) - Minutes after NBC Universal secured a long-term deal on Wednesday to broadcast the Olympics, the focus shifted firmly on the chances of a U.S. bid to land the 2024 Summer Games.
NBC Universal, the media unit of Comcast Corp, signed a $7.65 billion agreement to be the U.S. broadcaster of the Olympics until 2032, making it the biggest single broadcast deal in the history of the Games.
NBC, who were the only ones involved in the talks, had previously spent $4.38 billion on the U.S. broadcasting rights for four Olympic Games until 2020.
While the United States have yet to decide whether to bid for the 2024 Summer Games, an Olympic candidacy now has more than seven billion new good reasons.
The 1996 Atlanta Olympics were the last Summer Games staged in the United States with Salt Lake City hosting the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Efforts for the 2012 and 2016 Games with bids from New York and Chicago, respectively, fell spectacularly flat with the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) locked at the time in a bitter revenue sharing dispute with the IOC.
But with ties now fully restored and the new mega-deal providing unprecedented financial security for the IOC, Americans have every right to be confident of hosting the Olympics in 2024.
Games in the United States would provide huge domestic audiences at primetime because of the favourable time zones while also boosting the IOC's foothold in their largest market after years of disputes with the country's sports officials.
"We think this is a terrific deal for all involved," USOC President Larry Probst said in a conference call.
"It obviously helps to secure the long-term financial support for our athletes. For a 2024 bid we are continuing with the process."
"We will continue to have those conversations. We are intent on cutting down to a smaller number of cities in the next few months and make a decision by the end of the year. That is a process that will play out in six or seven months."
Dallas, Los Angeles and Boston are among a list of cities interested in bidding for the Games with the IOC opening bidding next year and a decision to be taken in 2017.
For NBC a home Olympics would be more than welcome.
"We would be supportive of Games in the States," said Mark Lazarus, Chairman of the NBC Sports Group in the conference call. "It would be good for our business.
"But this deal was made with no knowledge of where the Games will go. Our success with the Games has never been contingent on the location of those Games." (Reporting by Karolos Grohmann in Berlin; Editing by Frank Pingue)