Boston’s bid to host the 2024 Olympics and Paralympics is officially over after the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) decided today that it could no longer continue supporting it, although they claimed they remain committed to finding a city to put forward.
A joint statement confirming the decision was made by the USOC and Boston 2024 shortly after 4pm local time.
It followed discussions earlier in the day after the city’s Mayor Marty Walsh announced earlier he could not support the bid if that meant signing a host city contract now, which the USOC had asked him to do.
His opposition, coupled with the refusal of Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, to commit himself to backing the bid until the publication of report next month by consultancy firm the Brattle Group, forced the USOC to act.
A source close to the bid here, where members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) are gathering for its 128th Session, had earlier told insidethegames that the USOC could not continue backing the bid without the support of Walsh and Baker.
“Today, after consulting with Mayor Walsh and Governor Baker, Boston 2024 and the United States Olympic Committee have made a joint decision to withdraw Boston’s bid to host the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games,” said Steve Pagliuca, chairman of Boston 2024.
Discussions are now expected to take place between Los Angeles, which hosted the 1932 and 1984 Olympics, and the USOC to see if they can step in as a replacement.
Any city that the USOC selects to try to bring the Summer Olympics back to America for the first time since Atlanta 1996 must be found by September 15, the deadline set by the IOC for applicant cities to submit their interest.
“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,” said Scott Blackmun, chief executive of the USOC
“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.
“We will brief the media on our progress towards a decision later in August, and we will not have any public statements on the subject of a possible bid until then.”
No Boston Olympics, the opposition group who had led the campaign for the bid to be dropped, welcomed the decision.
“Boston is a world-class city,” they said in a statement.
“We are a city with an important past and a bright future.
“We got that way by thinking big, but also thinking smart.
“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.
“We’re better off for having passed on Boston 2024.”
Walsh had called a press conference at short notice following insidethegames’ exclusive story on Saturday (July 25) that the USOC had arranged a teleconference for today involving its 16 Board of Directors to decide whether to continue backing the bid or not.
“I cannot commit to putting the taxpayers at risk,” said Walsh, effectively leaving the USOC with no option but to withdraw its support for Boston.
“If committing to signing a guarantee today is what’s required to move forward, then Boston is no longer pursuing the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
Since Boston was surprisingly chosen by the USOC in January ahead of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington D.C., those who are against the bid in the city has risen from 33 per cent to 53 per cent in the latest poll.
Boston 2024 claim that private polling has shown support is rising but the USOC today lost patience.
“I refuse to mortgage the future of the city away,’’ Walsh told the press conference.
“This is a commitment that I can’t make without ensuring the city and its residents will be protected.
“I think it’s unfortunate that it’s come to this point,”
Pagliuca, co-owner of the National Basketball Association side Boston Celtics, expressed his disappointment at the decision to drop Boston 2024.
“We continue to believe that hosting the Games would have brought transformational benefits to Boston,” he said.
“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…we think public support would grow in Boston and across the Commonwealth.”
Boston’s decision leaves four confirmed bidders in the race.
Paris were already the firm favourites and their position appears to have been strengthened by this latest development, although it will also give hope to Budapest, Hamburg and Rome.
“As we reflected on the timing and the status of our bid in this international competition, we have jointly come to the conclusion that the extensive efforts required in Boston at this stage of the bid process would detract from the US’ ability to compete against strong interest from cities like Rome, Paris, Budapest and Hamburg,” said Pagliuca.
“For this reason, we have jointly decided to withdraw Boston’s bid in order to give the Olympic Movement in the United States the best chance to bring the Games back to our country in 2024.”
The decision by Boston, though, could provide an opportunity for Toronto to launch a strong bid.
Canadian Olympic Committee President Marcel Aubut claimed that, following the success of the Pan American Games, which finished there yesterday, no other city would be in stronger position if they decided to put themselves forward.
“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,” said Blackmun.
“Notwithstanding the promise of the original vision for the bid, and the soundness of the plan developed under 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.”
The IOC is due to choose a host city at its Session in Lima in 2017.