USOC ends Boston 2024’s Olympic bid; Zakim says taxpayers’ money the issue

The United States Olympic Committee has withdrawn Boston 2024’s bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, citing the lack of public support, according to a statement released by USOC Chief Executive Officer Scott Blackmun on July 27.

Many residents came out against the bid during a City-held community meeting at Roxbury Community College in April. Attendees voiced concerns about gentrification, loss of affordable housing and lack of participation in the planning process. Northeastern University was slated to host Olympic weightlifting and house visiting journalists in dorms.

“I think the issue for residents on Mission Hill and across the city was that Boston taxpayers should not be on the hook for cost overruns,” said Mission Hill City Councilor Josh Zakim in a phone interview.

He said the City could deal with other hassles, such as logistics and traffic. But, Zakim said, there were concerns that the City could be mortgaging its future if it held the Olympics and not spending money on top priorities, like transportation, education and housing.

Zakim came out in February with four non-binding questions on hosting the Olympics that he had hoped to get on the ballot for the November election. He said that effort helped “energize voices” on Twitter and elsewhere for a binding referendum about the Olympics.

NoBoston2024, an anti-Olympics protest group, said in a statement that it was “very pleased” to hear that the USOC was pulling the bid.

“This victory for the people of Boston is the result of tireless work of numerous activists and residents across the city, region and state speaking up against this anti-democratic land grab,” said the statement. “However, the effort to ensure that the city of Boston works for all of its residents does not end here, and we plan to continue the fight for a more equitable, just and sustainable city—a fight made easier without an unwelcome Olympic-sized distraction.”

Blackmun said in the statement that despite the “promise” of the original bid and the “soundness” of bid 2.0, the majority of Boston residents have not supported the effort. He said that the level of support enjoyed by the bid would not allow it to prevail over other bids from Paris, Rome, Hamburg, Budapest or Toronto.

“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,” said Blackmun. “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 to host the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

Blackmun said that the USOC would still like to see a United States city host the 2024 Olympics.

Walsh said in a released statement that he believed bringing the Olympics to Boston would be “good for our country” and would have brought “long-term benefits to Boston.”

“However, no benefit is so great that it is worth handing over the financial future of our City and our citizens were rightly hesitant to be supportive as a result,” said Walsh in the statement. “We always anticipated having the time to do our due diligence on the guarantees required and a full review of the risk and mitigation package proposed last week. This is a monumental decision that cannot be rushed, even if it means not moving forward with our bid for the 2024 Summer Games.”

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