The U.S. Olympic Committee and Boston 2024 have dropped the city’s bid as a candidate to host the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games, with the USOC saying it would still like to submit an American city as a potential host before a looming September deadline.
The move marks the end of seven tumultuous months since the USOC selected Boston as its choice in January over bids from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. In a joint statement with Boston 2024, USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said the lack of support, despite a bid that had been reworked as recently as June, led the committee to believe that a Boston bid could not win over other international efforts.
“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,” Blackmun said in a statement. “They also recognize, 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.”
The International Olympic Committee has set a September 15 deadline for nations interested in hosting the 2024 Games to submit their bids. A final decision on a host city is not expected until 2017.
Opposition to a potential Boston Olympics was strong from the start, with polling showing support at under 50 percent since January. The city’s initial bid proposal called for a walkable Games clustered in two portions of downtown Boston. But in June, facing lagging support within the city, Boston 2024 unveiled “Bid 2.0,” which called for more events outside the city. Bid officials had also said they would abide by the votes in a planned statewide referendum in November 2016, agreeing to drop the bid then if voters in Boston were still not in favor.
But the announcement to end the bid puts an end to the debate. “Notwithstanding the promise of the original vision for the bid, and the soundness of the plan developed under (bid 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,” Blackmun said. “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.”
Officials in Paris, Rome, Budapest, Hungary, and Hamburg, Germany, have already declared their intention to bid. The addition of Toronto is a possibility after Canada’s Olympic leaders and the city’s mayor touted the success of the recently completed Pan American Games. The city has not yet officially said if it will launch a bid before the September deadline.
The decision to drop the Boston bid came hours after Mayor Marty Walsh called a press conference to say he would not sign a host city agreement if the city had been ultimately selected, citing concerns over potential costs to taxpayers. Likewise, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker had declined in recent days to say if he would support the bid moving forward.
In a statement, Pagliuca said he believed the city would have hosted a successful event, but acknowledged that considerably more work needed to be done to gain support from Boston residents.
“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 U.S.’ ability to compete against strong interest from cities like Rome, Paris, Budapest and Hamburg,” he said. “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. In doing so, Boston 2024 Partnership will offer our support and the extensive knowledge we have gained in developing our Bid 2.0 to any American city that may choose to participate in the 2024 bidding process going forward.”