© Chicago 2016

As they gathered at SportAccord in Denver for the first major international Olympic sport summit hosted in the U.S. since the Games in Salt Lake 2002, the U.S. National Governing Bodies (NGB) of sport expressed their unified support for the Chicago 2016 bid and its vision for sport development across the country.

"As we gather at SportAccord, the U.S. National Federations are fully unified in their support of Chicago 2016," said Skip Gilbert, the Chair of the U.S. NGB Council, " and the bid’s vision of building sport in the urban core of Chicago and in cities across the U.S. through the Urban Youth Sport Initiative."

"We believe Chicago’s bid offers an extraordinary vision for delivering a spectacular experience for the Olympians and Paralympians of 2016 while leaving a significant legacy of healthier and stronger Olympic and Paralympic sports in cities across our nation."

Gilbert’s sentiments were echoed by Steve Penny, President of USA Gymnastics, who said, "We’ve been working with Chicago 2016 and World Sport Chicago (the bid’s sport legacy organization) to build gymnastics participation in the urban center and we’ve had great success demonstrating how a city, a bid and an NGB can work with local partners, in this case the Chicago Park District, to creative innovative and effective ways of reaching young people through Olympic and Paralympic sport."

World Sport Chicago has developed programs for sport development in the urban center in wrestling, gymnastics, swimming, sailing, badminton, boxing, tennis and several others, leveraging its Urban Youth Sport Initiative to draw young people to sport.

"We deeply appreciate the support of the NGBs as we seek to deliver a unique sports experience to urban youth," said Bill Scherr, World Sport Chicago’s Chairman. "Our programs have proven very effective at inspiring young people through exposure to new Olympic sports, excellent coaching and participation by Olympians and Paralympians."

"Young people in urban centers are dropping away from sport at an alarming rate, "Scherr said. "This program is the foundation of our vision for addressing that challenge in partnership with our NGBs. It is the first step in a broader sport development program we call the Five Rings of Sport, which is designed to reach from our urban center across the country and potentially around the world with a model that any city can use to draw urban youth to sport."

The U.S. Conference of Mayors, an organization representing hundreds of cities across the U.S., has formed an Olympic Task Force with Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley to study ways of exporting the Urban Youth Sport Initiative and implementing it in urban centers across the country.