Despite rampant rumors that the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) was set to drop Boston 2024 and move in another direction after a quarterly board meeting Tuesday, the national Olympic body remains solidly behind its first choice to host the Olympic Games – regardless of the strong city-wide opposition to the bid.
From the Electronic Arts headquarters near San Francisco, USOC Chairman and IOC member Larry Probst said “kudos to Steve [Pagliuca] and his team for terrific progress on their 2.0 plan”
“We are grateful for the unbelievably hard work and commitment that has gone into this over the last couple of months,” USOC CEO Scott Blackmun added.
When later pressed if there was any imminent possibility that Boston would be rejected Bluckmun said “we’re focused exclusively on Boston … we haven’t had conversations with Los Angeles, Washington or San Francisco about being ready for a switch.”
Those three cities had bid along with Boston to win the national nomination but ultimately the New England City was chosen.
Nominations are due into the International Olympic Committee (IOC) September 15th and until then the USOC can either move forward with Boston, select another U.S. city or cancel bidding for the 2024 Games altogether.
But the USOC plans to “circle-back” to Boston officials in mid-July and by then the timing may not accommodate a switch to another city should the support numbers not improve. It seems the USOC is all-in with Boston.
But there is still no guarantee that the USOC will enter Boston into the race.
“This is a partnership, a partnership between the USOC and Boston 2024, Blackmun said.
“If at any point we sit down and decide – you know what, this thing just isn’t on track – that I’m sure it will be mutual decision, not something that’s forced on either side.”
Public support polls have remained low without any significant trend towards improvement but the USOC has been commissioning its own polls that it has chosen not to publish.
“We obviously want to see a positive trend and the sooner, the better,” Probst said.
“The numbers now are in the low to mid-forties, we obviously want to see it get over 50 percent relatively soon and ultimately get into the mid-sixties range, certainly before the vote of the IOC in 2017.”
Boston 2024 will be subject to a binding state-wide referendum in November 2016.
Rival Hamburg will also face a public vote November 29 but its polls have shown as much as 64 percent support. Paris claims its support is already strong while Rome won’t require any vote to stay in the race. Budapest is expected to join the campaign in July and Baku is considering its options.
Blackmun said he was impressed that the new Bid 2.0 under Pagliuca’s leadership was still true to the original vision that was sold to the USOC in January, and it has a sound budget, a compact footprint and represented remarkable progress.
“We’re feeling really good about Steve and his team,” he said
The IOC will elect the winner in 2017.