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USOC searches for new bid city as axe falls on Boston 2024

The US Olympic Committee (USOC) is on the lookout for a new candidate city for the 2024 summer Olympic Games after Boston’s troubled bid was officially dropped yesterday (Monday) due to concerns over levels of public support.

Monday’s decision ends a period in which Boston 2024 has sought to address the chief issues of concerns over the possible burden of hosting the summer Games upon the taxpayer, along with question marks over the levels of public backing. USOC reiterated its support for Boston 2024 at the end of June, but with support levels among Boston residents currently sitting around the low to mid-40 per cent mark, the Committee stated this needed to improve amid continued speculation that Los Angeles could be returned to as a candidate city.

Boston was nominated by USOC in January ahead of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington D.C. Commenting on Monday’s decision, USOC chief executive Scott Blackmun (pictured) said: “When we made the decision to bid for the 2024 Olympic Games, one of the guiding principles that we adopted was that we would only submit a bid that we believed could win.

“Notwithstanding the promise of the original vision for the bid, and the soundness of the plan developed under (Boston 2024 chairman) Steve Pagliuca, we have not been able to get a majority of the citizens of Boston to support hosting the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Therefore, the USOC does not think that the level of support enjoyed by Boston’s bid would allow it to prevail over great bids from Paris, Rome, Hamburg, Budapest or Toronto.
“Boston 2024 has expressed confidence that, with more time, they could generate the public support necessary to win the bid and deliver a great Games. They also recognise, however, that we are out of time if the USOC is going to be able to consider a bid from another city. As a result, we have reached a mutual agreement to withdraw Boston’s bid to host the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“The USOC would very much like to see an American city host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2024. We will immediately begin to explore whether we can do so on a basis consistent with our guiding principles, to which we remain firmly committed. We understand the reality of the timeline that is before us.”

Reports surrounding the status of Boston’s bid continued over the weekend, with Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker stating he would not accede to a USOC request to declare his stance on Boston 2024. The Massachusetts state government last month appointed the Brattle Group to review Boston’s bid and Baker said he wouldn’t make a decision until this report was received.

Monday’s announcement was pre-empted by Boston Mayor Martin Walsh stating he would not “commit” to a deal to bid for the 2024 Games if doing so would leave city taxpayers vulnerable to the costs of hosting the event. Walsh added he would “refuse to mortgage the future of the city away.”

Commenting on the final decision, Walsh said: “I strongly believe that bringing the Olympic Games back to the United States would be good for our country and would have brought long-term benefits to Boston. However, no benefit is so great that it is worth handing over the financial future of our City and our citizens were rightly hesitant to be supportive as a result.”

Pagliuca, who was only appointed to lead Boston 2024 in May, stated that his organisation came to the conclusion that the “extensive efforts” required in Boston at this stage of the bid process would have detracted from the United States’ ability to compete against rival bids. However, he maintained that a successful bid would have benefitted Boston.

Pagliuca said: “We continue to believe that hosting the Games would have brought transformational benefits to Boston. Thanks to a strong working relationship with Mayor Walsh and Governor Baker, as well as the support of business, community and political leaders across Massachusetts, we were able to release Bid 2.0, a fiscally-responsible plan for privately-financed Games that included unprecedented safeguards to manage the risks associated with hosting.

"We believe that the benefits of hosting the Games far outweigh the risks. With more time to engage in a discussion about Bid 2.0 – about its 8,000 new units of housing, tens of thousands of new jobs, and new tax revenues for the city – along with the appropriate review by Mayor Walsh, the Brattle Group, the Governor and Beacon Hill leadership, we think public support would grow in Boston and across the Commonwealth.”

USOC now faces having to meet a deadline of September 15, the date set by the International Olympic Committee for cities to commit to bidding for the 2024 Games, should it enter an alternative bid. Blackmun said USOC would provide an update on progress towards a decision next month with Los Angeles, which hosted the 1932 and 1984 Olympics, considered the most viable replacement.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told NBC Los Angeles: “I continue to believe that Los Angeles is the ideal Olympic city, and we have always supported the USOC in their effort to return the Games to the United States. I would be happy to engage in discussions with the USOC about how to present the strongest and most fiscally responsible bid on behalf of our city and nation.”