Reporting from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – And just like that, Boston 2024 is no more.
After a hastily called press conference Monday following a United States Olympic Committee (USOC) teleconference with its Board and guest caller Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker – Mayor Walsh and bid Chief Steve Pagliuca said their thanks and good-byes.
A later USOC statement headline put it bluntly: “U.S. Olympic Committee and Boston 2024 jointly end campaign for Boston to Host the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
Yet it seemed more like a unilateral decision by the USOC in order to protect its own interests to stay viable for 2024.
When the USOC finally pressed, Mayor Walsh said he refused to put the taxpayers at risk.
“If committing to sign a guarantee today is what’s required to move forward, then Boston is no longer pursuing the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
One can only assume that Governor Baker maintained the stance that he could not declare his support for the bid until reviewing a consultant’s report due next month. The USOC had asked for his decision last Friday, presumably so it would have time to prepare back-up plans before the International Olympic Committee (IOC) bid nomination deadline on September 15 should Baker fail to support the plans.
“The USOC would very much like to see an American city host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2024,” the statement explained.
According to the statement, the USOC leadership vows to explore new opportunities to land the 2024 Games and plan to make an announcement regarding any decision “later in August.”
Though rumours have persisted that Los Angeles, a city that Boston defeated in January when it was selected by the USOC, was ready to step in – both USOC officials and the LA Mayor had denied that any discussions had taken place. But if the USOC needs to make a quick choice, LA is the most likely candidate with many ready-built venues and great legacies from the 1932 and 1984 Games.
By late Monday, reports suggested that the USOC and the LA Mayor’s office were already in contact as the city hosts the Special Olympics World Games.
Bid opposition group No Boston Olympics were celebratory when the news was released, organizing an evening event for supporters.
“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,” a No Boston Olympics email read.
No Boston Olympics ran a slick social media campaign that spread fears of cost overruns and misspent money that the taxpayers would be forced to cover. As a result, public support for the Games was never much higher than 40 percent – well below any acceptable level for the IOC.
The USOC recognized the danger of nominating a city with low support.
“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.”
After a successful Pan Am Games this month, Toronto has just begun considering a bid for the Games.
Boston 2024 told the USOC that it was confident it could raise public support if given more time, but the USOC had apparently become impatient.
“We are out of time if the USOC is going to be able to consider a bid from another city,” the statement explained.