Boston out as possible 2024 Olympic host, but LA interested

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Boston ended its troubled bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics on Monday, the US Olympic Committee confirmed

Boston ended its troubled bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics on Monday, the US Olympic Committee confirmed (AFP Photo/Valery Hache)

New York (AFP) - Boston's troubled bid for the 2024 Olympics ended amid financial fears and local opposition, leaving the US Olympic Committee to seek a replacement candidate by mid-September.

The International Olympic Committee said Tuesday it was "confident" the US could find a replacement candidate despite Boston pulling out before the nomination deadline.

Boston's bid was in trouble almost as soon as the USOC chose the New England city in January ahead of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington.

It died for good shortly after Boston Mayor Martin Walsh said he wouldn't commit taxpayers to financing any cost overruns for the quadrennial spectacle.

Vocal groups of Boston residents opposed to the games had argued that taxpayers could well end up footing the bill.

US Olympic Committee chief executive Scott Blackmun said resistance was too great to overcome before the September 15 deadline for submitting a bid city to the International Olympic Committee.

"We have not been able to get a majority of the citizens of Boston to support hosting the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, 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," Blackmun said in a statement.

"Boston 2024 has expressed confidence that, with more time, they could generate the public support necessary to win the bid and deliver a great Games. They also recognize, however, that we are out of time if the USOC is going to be able to consider a bid from another city.

"As a result, we have reached a mutual agreement to withdraw Boston's bid," Blackmun said.

The failure of Boston's bid leaves the USOC in the humbling position of having to pull together a short-notice plan to offer against their global rivals.

The IOC said it was sure a new US candidate would come forward.

"We are confident that the US will make the right choice and that they can still put forward a strong candidate by 15 September," the IOC said in a statement from Kuala Lumpur, where it is currently meeting.

The United States has not hosted the Summer Games since 1996 in Atlanta and has not hosted the Winter Olympics since 2002 at Salt Lake City.

A 2012 New York bid was undone by the last-minute wipeout of the planned main stadium site while a 2016 Chicago bid was the first ousted in IOC voting.

"The USOC would very much like to see an American city host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2024," Blackmun said, adding that officials "understand the reality of the timeline that is before us."

- Los Angeles to the fore -

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was quick to say the Southern California city was still interested, although his office has not spoken to members of the USOC.

"I continue to believe that Los Angeles is the ideal Olympic city," Garcetti said.

It was not immediately clear if Washington or San Francisco would be interested in reviving their bids, and Blackmun said the USOC wouldn't comment on a potential new candidate before next month.

Not only did opinion polls reveal a worrying lack of support in Boston, the bid failed to gain key political backing.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said Friday he wouldn't back the bid until he had reviewed an independent report on its finances that wasn't due until August.

And on Monday, Walsh said he wouldn't sign a host agreement without strong guarantees to protect taxpayers.

"If committing to signing a guarantee today is what's required to move forward then Boston is no longer pursuing the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games," he added.

It wasn't clear if Walsh knew as he spoke that the USOC would soon pull the plug, issuing a statement from their Colorado headquarters calling it a joint decision with the Boston 2024 Partnership.

Steve Pagliuca, the managing co-owner of the NBA Boston Celtics, had joined the struggling Boston bid and helped push a new vision to sell to citizens.

But Boston 2.0, heralding the benefits of new neighborhoods that would be created by construction for the Olympics and cost savings to some subway renovations that would be needed, failed to muster the needed support.

Pagliuca said he thought organizers could have built consensus, but not soon enough.

The No Boston Olympics opposition group issued a statement welcoming the decision.

"We're better off for having passed on Boston 2024," the group said.