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Volume 27 No. 35
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Boston Chosen As U.S. Bid City For '24 Games By USOC In "Difficult, Agonizing" Decision

The USOC on Thursday chose Boston to be its entry in the bidding for the '24 Games in what USOC Chair Larry Probst said “was probably the most challenging, the most difficult, the most agonizing decision we have ever made as a board.” Leaders of the Boston 2024 bid, along with top members of the USOC, held a press conference at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center Friday morning after the city was chosen to be the American candidate to host the '24 Olympics. The decision was announced around 6:30pm ET Thursday night after a closed-door meeting of the 15-member USOC BOD at Denver Int'l Airport. DC, L.A. and S.F. were also contending, with the California cities widely viewed as the favorites. “Boston may not be an international destination like San Francisco, D.C., and Los Angeles, but I think it’s got the bones to create a great story for this race,” Teneo Sport Managing Dir and Olympic bid expert Terrence Burns said after Thursday's announcement. “It’s undeniable that they have a very strong civic, corporate and governmental support system. That is crucial.” Burns also cited the Northeast having the “greatest concentration of corporate wealth in America” as a potential deciding factor. Probst said a key to Boston’s victory was the plan’s adherence to the IOC’s new Agenda 2020, which is aimed at reducing the cost of hosting the Olympics and limit public spending on the Games. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said all taxpayer spending would go to public transportation improvements that would be needed regardless of the Games coming to town. "I am not going to use public money, city money, to build an aquatic center,” Walsh said. “I’m not going to use public money to build an archery gallery. I’m not going to use public money to build a stadium.” Boston Olympic Committee Chair John Fish cited the city’s university infrastructure as a key to maintaining a cost-effective Games. “At the end of the day, I would say there’s going to be probably 70-75% of all of our venues here in Boston will be located on university campuses,” he said.

MAKING PLANS PUBLIC: The Boston plan has faced vocal opposition locally from a group called No Boston Olympics. Much of the criticism centers on the lack of specific plans being made available to the public. Some of that stems from not wanting to excite the city about plans that are, as Probst put it, in the “concept stage.” Boston bid reps were also working under advice from the USOC, citing lessons learned from failed bids by N.Y. and Chicago for the '12 and '16 Games, respectively. “If these [Olympic plan] bid books are widely available, you end up creating an arms race among all of the cities, which makes the process much more expensive,“ said USOC CEO Scott Blackmun. “We made the request of the cities to go light on public discussion.” With the U.S. candidate chosen, bid reps said that more information would become publicly available. “ I promise that this will be the most open and transparent and inclusive process in Olympic history,” Walsh said. Boston was the only bid to secure an insurance policy for this early stage of bidding to protect taxpayers from liability under the host city agreement. The risk is being shared by three firms, whose names were not shared.

CHANCES TO ACTUALLY LAND THE GAMES: Boston will be a strong candidate in what is expected to be a stacked field that could include Paris; Rome; Istanbul; either Hamburg or Berlin, Germany; Doha, Qatar; and a city from South Africa. The next step comes in the spring of '16, when the IOC BOD may reduce the field to three or four cities. The final decision comes in '17 at the 130th IOC session in Lima, Peru. “There is no question that the U.S., if they put forward the right bid with the right city they would be a very, very strong candidate,” said former IOC Marketing Dir Michael Payne. He cited the '12 London Games and three consecutive Olympics in Asia (Pyeongchang in '18, Tokyo in '20 and either Beijing or Almaty in '22) as an advantage for a U.S. bid. “There’s a genuine perspective saying, ‘Right, it will be nearly 30 years since the Games were in America,’” he said. “The unofficial political geo-rotation plays certainly to America’s strength.”