Taking advantage of the new “Invitation Phase”, and to learn more from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) about the bid process and how to deliver the best possible plan for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games, a high-level Boston 2024 delegation visited IOC headquarters in Lausanne Wednesday. The delegation was led by newly-appointed Boston 2024 Chair Steve Pagliuca.
But by taking advantage of freedom of information in Massachusetts, new information was revealed at home about Boston’s plans that weren’t previously understood.
The Boston 2024 bid committee, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), and the City of Boston were represented at the Lausanne meetings.
Following the meeting USOC Chairman and IOC member Larry Probst III said, “the USOC is fully committed to bringing the Olympic Games back to the United States. We are privileged and excited to be in Lausanne with our partners – the Boston 2024 bid team and the City of Boston. The new invitation phase is a well-conceived initiative of President Thomas Bach which allows us to tap into the vast experience and expertise of the IOC”.
On Tuesday opposition group No Boston Olympics emailed an open letter to meeting host IOC Executive Director Christophe Dubi to outline its concerns over the bid.
“We thought you might also like to hear another side of the debate about Boston2024 that is occurring here,” the letter signed by “Chris, Kelley, Liam – CoChairs, No Boston Olympics” began.
The letter continued to explain concerns over expensive venue construction and disinterest of hosting the Games among the citizenship.
“We would be happy to discuss these and other issues with you before or after your meeting with Boston2024. Please let us know if you would like to set up some time to talk by phone this week,” it concluded.
USOC President Scott Blackmun told the Associated Press that the group raises legitimate questions that will be addressed. Lack of support for the bid has been sparking rumours in the past weeks that Los Angeles is waiting to replace Boston as the American nomination to host the Games when applications are due September 15. But Blackmun stands firm with his organization’s intentions.
“The position is Boston is our bid city. We selected them because their bid aligned with what the IOC wants. We’re extremely excited about the vision that they’ve laid out.”
Steve Pagliuca, Boston 2024 Chairman said, “our delegation was honored to engage with key members of the IOC administration today. We are very grateful to the IOC for giving us the opportunity to meet with them and learn about how Olympic Agenda 2020 will help us both deliver a great Games and align with the city’s vision for 2030. We are committed to collaborating with all our key stakeholders to deliver the very best possible bid that will ensure long-term benefits for the city of Boston and the Olympic Movement”.
Meanwhile back at home Boston Magazine was in receipt Wednesday of a copy of the original “highly confidential” bid proposal made by Boston 2024 to the USOC late last year. Revealed in the document obtained by a public records request were financial details and other information that were not included in the later released public version.
Though this preliminary proposal will likely undergo major revisions when the new plans are expected to be released next month, the document does include a compelling paragraph about “Optics of the Cost of the Games.”
Given recent media reports about large scale sporting events and the financial impacts on their host communities, people in Massachusetts and Boston are in need of a realistic education about the costs of the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. As part of our public relations strategy, we will work from a realistic budget number to manage expectations, clearly divide the costs between public and private expenditures and actively communicate the benefits of bidding for and hosting the Games. – Boston 2024 Bid Proposal To USOC
No Boston Olympics commented Thursday that this document is “The Smoking Gun” that reveals that Boston 2024 is having different discussions with the USOC and IOC than with the general public.
But Boston 2024 Vice President Erin Murphy later responded to Boston Magazine by email: “As stated previously, there is a limited amount of proprietary information that the USOC has asked Boston 2024 not to release because they believe it will put Boston and the United States at a competitive disadvantage.”
Boston 2024 seems to be working the communication strategy that IOC President Thomas Bach proposed last year and has already put into execution with his Agenda 2024 reforms – to clearly separate Games organization costs from planned or proposed infrastructure costs. It’s the result of the confusingly reported $51 billion USD spent on the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games where costs of building an “Olympic City” were factored in that in reality shouldn’t have to have anything to do with the Games themselves.
Most cities, including Boston, won’t have the kind construction that was required in Russia, that at its peak was the largest project of its kind in the world.
Yet costs of security, road improvements and infrastructural support for major venues will need to be borne somewhere – likely from taxpayers – and Boston 2024, like all bids, will have to communicate this to the general public
Boston is currently in the race against Hamburg and Rome with Paris and Budapest expected to join shortly. The IOC will choose a winner from the candidates in 2017.