The U.S. Olympic Committee has denied a report that it may be considering an alternative to Boston as its candidate city for the 2024 Olympic Summer Games. The denial followed a report in the Wall Street Journal that suggested Olympic officials have reached out to bid leaders in Los Angeles and San Francisco following polling in Boston that has showed sagging support for the bid effort there. Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. were the other finalists to receive the USOC’s bid before Boston was selected in January.
“We believe that Boston can and should lead America’s bid to host the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and we are absolutely committed to our partnership with Boston 2024 and their innovative concept for hosting the Games,” USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said in a statement. “Any suggestion that we are considering alternatives is simply not true.”
Boston 2024 also sought to downplay the report, issuing a statement that it has enjoyed “the unequivocal support of our partner, the United States Olympic Committee,” since the city was selected. “Boston 2024 and the USOC will conduct polls from time to time during this bid process to ensure we are on track to win a majority support,” according to the statement. “In fact the IOC (International Olympic Committee) requires it. We welcome this initiative and we are confident that all polling over the coming months will reveal a significant increase in public support as we continue to inform and engage the people of Boston and Massachusetts about the long-term and sustainable benefits of the Games.”
The Boston bid has gotten off to a rocky start locally, with media polling suggesting that support has gone down in recent weeks. In March, radio station WBUR released the results of a recent poll it conducted that showed 36 percent support for the bid with 52 percent opposed. Those numbers were down from a January WBUR poll that showed 51 percent support with 33 percent opposed. Bid officials have attributed the numbers, in part, to a negative atmosphere in general in the area following one of the city’s coldest winters on record.
The release of the most recent poll nonetheless prompted Boston 2024 to issue a statement on March 21 that it would support a statewide referendum in November 2016 to gauge support for the bid, noting that if the measure failed, it would drop its bid. The group also said if the measure passed statewide but failed in Boston, it would also drop its bid. The timing of that referendum, however, could put the USOC in a difficult spot. Bids for the 2024 Games are due in September 2015, with a decision expected in 2017, meaning a loss at the polls in 2016 would likely scuttle the USOC’s chances of bringing the Games back to the United States. The last Olympic Summer Games host in the United States was Atlanta in 1996.
“Prior to this vote we will be working with the people of Boston and Massachusetts to build the best bid possible—one that reflects the best of our state and the Olympic and Paralympic movement,” bid chairman John Fish said. “Then, the people of Massachusetts can make the final decision on whether we have achieved those goals.”