Major news outlets are reporting that Boston’s bid for the 2024 Olympic Games may be in jeopardy. As a reminder, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) selected Boston among the final four entrants in January. Since then, opposition in Boston has grown to the point where, in May, we reported that the city’s bid was no longer a sure thing.
From the time the Boston2024 committee put for its proposal, several opposition groups have been gathering support. No Boston Olympics and No Boston 2024 have been the most vocal, and in March it was announced that the city would hold a referendum to let the voters decide whether or not there was enough public support for the bid.
Support for Boston’s Olympic bid has waned since the USOC selected it in January. At that time, a WBUR poll showed 51% of residents supported the idea of hosting the Olympic Games; by March support was down to 36% and it hasn’t risen above 40% since.
At the heart of the opposition is the enormous cost involved in putting on such a massive event. Beijing broke spending records hosting the Summer Games in 2008, and Sochi reportedly spent upwards of $50 billion on the 2014 Winter Games.
Today, Boston mayor Marty Walsh announced he would not sign a contract with the USOC if it meant that the city’s residents would risk bearing any future financial burden of the hosting the potential games. According to the news outlets, Walsh told reporters at a press conference:
“This is a commitment I cannot make without assurances that Boston and its residents will be protected. I refuse to mortgage the future of the city away. I refuse to put Boston on the hook for overruns. And I refuse to commit to signing a guarantee that uses taxpayer dollars to pay for the Olympics.”
The International Olympic Committee will not make its selection for the 2024 host city until 2017, but all bids from potential host countries are due to the IOC by September 15, 2015. The USOC is in a difficult position; if it pushes Boston to make a do-or-die decision and Boston pulls out, then the committee must decide whether or not to award the bid to another city, or not to put forth an entrant to the IOC, effectively forgoing the chance to host the 2024 Games.
The USOC is expected to make an announcement on the subject later today.