Boston’s Olympic bid is looking likely to fail before it even gets to the starting blocks. On Monday, the Boston mayor, Marty Walsh, said he would not sign a host city contract with the US Olympic Committee (Usoc) until he knew the financial implications of the agreement.
“I’m not going to sign an agreement that’s going to cost the taxpayers to pony up,” said Walsh at a press conference.
Walsh is concerned that Bostonians will bear the costs if the city is chosen to host the 2024 Olympics. “I refuse to mortgage the future of the city away,’’ he said. “This is a commitment that I can’t make without ensuring the city and its residents will be protected.’’ Walsh said he needs time to assess the full financial implications of the bid. A consulting group is expected to deliver a report on the Games to Walsh and Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker in August.
A host contract is seen as crucial to Olympic bids as it is is evidence the city fully backs plans for the Games. It is particularly important in the US where cities, rather than the federal government provide backing.
The bid had been met with widespread hostility by many residents of the city, who fear the financial burden the of the Games. Although the bid team said the Games would only cost $4.6bn, Olympic budgets have a habit of swelling. By comparison, the London Olympics budget came in at around $14bn.
In March, Boston 2024 officials announced they will hold a statewide referendum on whether to host the Games after it was revealed support for the bid was as low as 36% among local residents.
The last time the US hosted the Summer Games was in 1996, when Atlanta was the venue for an Olympics later described as an “unmitigated transport disaster”. One person was killed in a pipe-bomb attack at the Olympic Park during the Atlanta Games, and any future US host city would undergo huge security precautions.
Usoc received bids from Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco and Washington DC to go forward as the US choice for 2024, with Boston chosen as the candidate in January this year. Usoc does not have to submit a host city to the IOC until mid September but time would be limited for the most likely alternative, Los Angeles, to put a bid together if Boston were to pull out at this stage.
This article was written by Tom Lutz, for theguardian.com on Monday 27th July 2015 15.45 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010