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Mayor says 2024 Games wont leave Boston in red


Boston Mayor Marty Walsh vowed Friday that the city wouldn’t use public funds to build sports venues if it’s selected to host the 2024 Olympics.

“I promise this will be the most open, transparent and inclusive process in Olympic history,” Walsh said at a press conference a day after the US Olympic Committee said it would put the sports-mad New England City forward as the American candidate to host the 2024 Summer Games.

“I also promise that I will never leave Boston with a large price tag of an unpaid debt when it comes to the Olympics.”

Walsh, Boston bid chief John Fish and USOC officials said the selection was just a first step toward building a bid that can win over the International Olympic Committee as well as opponents to the Games in Boston.

Walsh said the Games could accelerate improvements infrastructure — notably in transportation — that the city needs anyway.

Such infrastructure improvements, some of them already approved without regard for an Olympic bid, would receive public funding, but sports venues will not.

Boston beat out Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington in voting by the 15-member US Olympic Committee (USOC) board of directors.

USOC chairman Larry Probst said the board was impressed by a Boston plan that was “athlete-centric, cost-effective, cost-efficient” and in line with the reforms of the IOC’s Olympic Agenda 2020 designed to make the games less expensive to stage.

Boston lacks a venue for a main Olympic stadium, and initial plans are to build a temporary venue just south of the city.

The Games could also make use of Fenway Park, the historic home of baseball’s Boston Red Sox, the TD Garden, the home of the NHL’s Bruins and NBA’s Celtics, and the more distant Gillette Stadium, home of the NFL’s New England Patriots.

But a key feature of the bid is a plan to work with some of the many universities in the area, with “three or four” already expressing an interest in building sports venues.

“Their model is innovative in terms of its partnership with universities,” USOC chief executive Scott Blackmun said.

“Those universities are very, very much behind this bid and that allows us to be very responsive to the direction that the IOC wants to go because of that.”

– Local opposition –

Blackmun also addressed local opposition to the bid, saying the concerns raised by the group “No Boston” that the Games could leave the city with crippling debt are “very fair, very legitimate questions.”

Walsh and Fish said organizers would reach out to local communities to explain their plans as they develop.

“We are very, very confident as that process unfolds we will gain even more acceptance than we have today,” Fish said.

The United States has not held the summer Games since Atlanta in 1996. But the 2024 contest is shaping up to become one of the toughest.

Rome has announced that it will lead an Italian bid, Germany has said it will put forward a candidate and Paris is to announce this month whether it will seek the Games.

The Azerbaijan capital, Baku, and Doha — both beaten by Tokyo in the bid to host the 2020 Games — are potential candidates. South Africa could have a bid by Durban or a joint Johannesburg-Pretoria bid.

Boston’s candidacy follows failed bids by New York for the 2012 Olympics, Chicago for 2016 and no entry for 2020 in order to re-evaluate plans.

Probst said relations between the IOC and USOC had improved since Chicago lost out to Rio de Janeiro for 2016 Games, leading the USOC to believe the selectors were open to an American bid.

“There were some issues that existed six or seven years ago where the relationship between the USOC and the IOC was not terrific,” he said.

“One of those was the revenue sharing issue that we ended up resolving a couple of years ago.

“Our IOC members, everybody on the USOC staff has worked really hard to build and improve the relationship with the IOC leadership and IOC members. I just think we’re in a better position to bid.”


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