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Boston Selected As U.S. Bidder To Host 2024 Olympics

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The city of Boston, known for being passionate about its sports teams, is going to compete on an international stage to become the host city for the 2024 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.  Supporters see the games as a chance to enhance Boston’s image as a world-class city. Critics fear a financial boondoggle.           

        The morning after the United States Olympic Committee announced Boston had been chosen to take the lead in trying to bring the summer Olympics back to this country, Mayor Martin Walsh, surrounded by athletes and boosters of Boston’s bid, discussed the decision.

       " The first thing I want to say is wow, can you believe this?"

        Speaking at the news conference in the Boston Convention Center, where his inaugural ball ended just hours earlier, Governor Charlie Baker said he was excited Boston had been chosen.  He said it is an opportunity to plan for the future of greater Boston.

       "This is the start of the race. This is where it begins. There will be significant opportunities for all of us to engage in a very robust and thorough debate about what we can bring to this opporunity."

             Boston won what was described as an intense competition with Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. to get the nod from the U.S. Olympic Committee.  The committee made the decision at a closed meeting at the Denver International Airport Thursday.

      U.S Olympic Committee Chairman Larry Probst described the deliberations as “gut wrenching.”

       Probst said Boston’s bid so far consists of a “concept plan” for hosting the 2024 games. Over the next nine months a more detailed plan must be prepared to be submitted to the International Olympic Committee which will announce in 2017 the site for the 2024 games.

       " We expect cities like Rome, and Paris ,and Berlin and perhaps Istanbul and South Africa to show up to compete for 2024, so that competition will be intense," said Probst.

       Mayor Walsh announced a schedule for a series of neighborhood meetings through next fall to hash out the details of hosting the games including venues, housing for athletes and media, transportation and security.

         " I think after the people of Boston have an opportunity to understand every aspect of the Olympic conversation they will be excited about it."

        Walsh said he secured a $25 million insurance policy from the U.S. Olympic Committee that assures Boston will not be saddled with any debt when the games are over.  He vowed that taxpayer money would only be spent for transportation improvements, which would have lasting public benefits, and not to build venues.

       " I am not going to use public money to build an aquatic center. I am not going to use city money to build an archery center or a stadium," said Walsh.

        The leader of the effort to bring the Olympics to Boston, Suffolk Construction Co. CEO John Fish, said the plan is to use existing facilities on the city’s college and university campuses as venues for the competitions and to construct a temporary stadium in Boston for the opening and closing ceremonies.

        " At the end of the day I would say 70-75 percent of all our venues here in Boston will be located on university campuses," said Fish.

         He gave assurances there would be no cost overruns and no white elephants.

         Critics point out that Boston’s bid to host the 2024 Olympics has advanced to this point with no public hearings.  A spokesman for the group No Boston Olympics said “Taxpayers across Massachusetts should be very concerned that the process has advanced this far without their input, and without the opportunity for independent analysts to examine the bid.”

     

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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