By Duncan Mackay

December 23 - Tulsa has set up a special committee to investigate the possibility of launching a bid to host the 2020 Olympics, comparing its unlikely attempt to that of Atlanta, which hosted the 1996 Games.

Michael Jones, a member of the committee, said: “A lot of you are probably thinking what I thought the first time I heard this, 'Tulsa? Olympics?

"'Are you out of your mind?’

“That’s exactly what everyone said about Atlanta when they started proposing the same thing."

Tulsa City Council member John Eagleton said: "The biggest hurdle is to get over that initial first blush of that's impossible.

"Once people think outside the box and realise it can be done they become excited about it."

Tulsa, is the second largest city in Oklahoma, with a population of 385,635, although that figure raises to 916,079 in the Metro area, which would still make it the smallest city to host the Olympics since Helsinki in 1952.

A bid would also have to overcome the memories of Atlanta, widely considered to have been the worst Olympics of recent times, a stigma that the US is still trying to shake-off.

The committee said it would raise private funds to conduct a campaign - Atlanta spent about $7 million (£4.3 million) 20 years ago - but it would need the Mayor and Council’s approval to apply to be a host city.

Such a campaign would focus on the Tulsa area’s American Indian heritage and the fact that the state has produced numerous Olympians, including Jim Thorpe and Shannon Miller (pictured).

The plan, which has been under discussion, since August, even before Chicago were so controversially overlooked in October to host the 2016 Olympics, being eliminated in the first round as Rio de Janeiro were awarded the Games.

Tulsa already claims it has a number of venues that could be used to host events, including the BOK Center, the Tulsa Convention Center, Expo Square, the Mabee Center and the new Drillers ballpark, and park areas such as Mohawk Park, River Parks and Turkey Mountain.

Venues on the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, University of Central Oklahoma and Northeastern State University campuses, could also be used.

One area of concern is the low number of quality hotel rooms in Tulsa, which is estimated at 13,000 but needs more analysis, a long way below the International Olympic Committee (IOC) minimum standard of 40,000.

Any bid would also need the backing of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), who so far have appeared lukewarm on the idea of another bid so soon after the disappointment of Chicago.

Larry Probst, the chairman of the USOC, said: "That’s something we’ll revisit at a future board meeting."

A number of cities around the world, including Rome, Istanbul and Durban have already publicly talked about the possibility, as have Tokyo, who were beaten in the race to host the 2016 Olympics.

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