Local officials want more Olympics info

Local state Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez and local state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz have not formed definitive opinions about the possibility of the 2024 Summer Olympics coming to Boston, but both agreed that there are unanswered questions.

The U.S. Olympic Committee on Jan. 8 named Boston as its official contender for the country’s 2024 Olympics bid. The bid still needs to be completed, and would then go on to compete with international cities vying to hold the Games. The International Olympics Committee, based in Switzerland, is expected to make the final decision on the city that will host the Games in 2017.

When asked about the Olympics, Sánchez said he is “not saying anything about it” and has “no opinion either way.” He noted that “nobody has seen the bid or anything” and that “it’s just a concept.”

The state representative then went on to say there are questions about whether he is going to have to vote on legislation surrounding the Olympics and on public funding “to augment certain things.”

“What are the benefits to Boston and its residents?” he asked.

Earlier in the interview while speaking on another subject, Sánchez said that issues like helping Latino and African-American males who were struggling in the Boston Public Schools “is my Olympics” and that “the Olympics is a far-fetched dream for me.”

Chang-Díaz said that while she has a “stance of skepticism,” she is keeping an open mind to the possibility of the Olympics. She said she is “less skeptical” after meeting with two members of the Boston 2024, including construction magnate John Fish. Boston 2024 is the group backing a local Olympics.

Chang-Díaz said that there is a “compelling argument” for the advantages Boston has for competing for a bid, including that money can be saved on temporary housing because the city has an abundance of colleges and universities. People can be housed on campuses, as they will be empty for summer vacation.

But, she said, there are still “many unanswered questions,” such as “who is on the hook” for cost overruns.

Asked if she was troubled by the lack of public process, Chang-Díaz responded it was her understanding that there were some meetings prior to the formation of Boston 2024. But she did say that it was “troubling for me” that the bid documents are private, although she has been told that is the policy of the United States Olympics Committee.

“That does not make it any less troubling,” she said.

Chang-Díaz said there will eventually have to be legislation that will need to be “signed on the dotted line” for any public money going to the Olympics.

“Those documents will have to be public,” she said.

Boston is among four U.S. cities with committees competing to host the 2024 Games. The others are in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. The U.S. Olympic Committee is expected to select one of those four to be the official U.S. bidder for the 2024 Games, which then would compete with host bids from other countries in a final decision made by the International Olympic Committee.

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