The USA Olympic team headed to Houston in 2016 - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

The USA Olympic team headed to Houston in 2016

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Rio de Janeiro may be hosting the 2016 Olympic Games, but before Team USA heads to Brazil all of the American athletes will be coming to Houston.

The Harris County-Houston Sports Authority will work with the United States Olympic Committee in making Houston the central location for processing the entire American team.

"It gives a chance for the local community to kind of touch the Olympics," said Janis Burke, CEO of the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority, in an interview with FOX 26 Sports.

It was Burke's brainchild to bring the American athletes to Houston before they go to Brazil and she won over the USOC.

"It tells us that they have a lot of confidence in our ability to handle this," Burke said. "It's sort of a demanding four weeks of processing, making sure the athletes feel special and all of that.

"It's very complimentary (for Houston)."

Among the many things the athletes will do in Houston according to Burke include getting fitted for their official Olympic apparel by Team USA sponsor Ralph Lauren, and getting their official photographs made for the Olympics.

"All of that will happen here and then they'll go on to the Rio games straight from Houston," Burke said.

Burke said the athletes will stay at the Hilton Americas downtown, with their processing taking place at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

"Some of them may come early and train here," Burke said. "Some of them will just come in, process and leave right away. It will vary over several weeks."

One of the most anticipated events at every Olympic Games is men's basketball and Team USA could spend a few days in Houston practicing before heading to Brazil.

"Tad Brown from the Rockets has offered for the basketball team, the USA basketball team, to practice at the Rockets facility (Toyota Center)," Burke said.

Brown is the Rockets chief executive officer.

"So there are some really neat things for the community to be able to touch the Olympics," Burke said.

While this is the first time the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority has handled the processing for Team USA headed to an Olympic games, the HCHSA did take care of the processing of American athletes for the 2011 Pan Am Games

Burke points out this will be a special moment for the American athletes in Houston before they go to Brazil.

"It's the first time that a lot of them are coming together as a team, like track and field," Burke said.

"It's kind of an important step. They're usually in awe of 'oh my gosh, I'm truly an Olympian.' It's that first, initial step before they compete in the Olympic Games."

The 2016 Olympic games are Aug. 5-21.

The processing of the American team will begin in late July and run through the middle of August.

Burke said Houston will also be the staging ground for processing the athletes who are going to Brazil to take part in the Paralympic Games which begin Sept. 7, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.

The Paralympic Games, which involve athletes who compete while dealing with physical disabilities, usually take place following the Olympic Games.

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