A bid for Boston to host the 2024 Olympics has been withdrawn, with officials citing a lack of support among residents. The US Olympic Committee must make a fast decision if it wants another city in the running.
US Olympic Committee chief executive Scott Blackmun and the leader of Boston’s 2024 bid, Steve Pagliuca, made the announcement in a joint statement.
“We have not been able to get a majority of the citizens of Boston to support hosting the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games,” Blackmun said, adding it would be difficult to make the bid succeed.
“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,” he added.
Boston 2024 effectively ended its online campaign with a simple tweet.
Only hours earlier, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh said in a news conference that he would not be pressured into signing a contract with the USOC. Walsh said he was not satisfied that city taxpayers would be safe from having to cover the cost of overruns.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker had also refused to give his full backing to the games, stating that he needed a full report from a consulting group before doing so.
Blackmun said the timing of Monday’s decision was necessary because the USOC still wanted to try to host the 2024 Games. The committee has until September 15 to name a candidate city, with several Olympic leaders tacitly supporting Los Angeles – which hosted the Olympics in 1984 – as the best possible substitute.
Ten people on Twitter?
Boston beat Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington to become the US hopeful for the bid. The campaign rapidly hit problems, with complaints that the city’s infrastructure could not cope and that the games would prove to be a waste of money.
In a January news conference, Mayor Walsh had appeared firmly behind the bid. He said the opposition amounted to about “10 people on Twitter.” It appeared that he miscalculated, and the Internet struck back as the hashtag #10peopleonTwitter began to trend. It did once again on Monday.
Leaders of the No Boston Olympics group said they were planning a celebration at a pub. “We need to move forward as a city, and today’s decision allows us to do that on our own terms, not the terms of the USOC or the IOC,” the group said in a statement.
In a poll published earlier in July, just 42 percent of Boston-area respondents said they supported the idea of hosting the games, while half were against it.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said his city, which is regarded by some commentators as having provided a model for the modern games 40 years ago, was interested.
“Los Angeles is the ideal Olympic city,” Garcetti said. “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.”
rc/lw (AP, AFP, Reuters)