World / US and Canada

US drops Boston's embattled bid to host 2024 Olympic Games

(Agencies) Updated: 2015-07-28 14:20

US drops Boston's embattled bid to host 2024 Olympic Games

A proposed Athlete's Village in Boston, Massachusetts is seen in this handout image made available by the Boston 2024 group, which is organizing Boston's bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics. [Photo/Agencies]

BOSTON - The US Olympic Committee on Monday rescinded Boston's bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games after the mayor said his city's taxpayers could not afford to host the large-scale event.

The move was met with relief by Massachusetts officials, who had faced an active opposition campaign that fought the idea of hosting the Summer Games, forecast to cost more than $8.6 billion, from the moment the USOC in January picked Boston over other major US cities including Los Angeles, Washington and San Francisco.

The USOC said it still hoped to pick a US candidate to compete for the games, against a lineup including Paris, Rome, Budapest and Hamburg, Germany.

"We have not been able to get a majority of the citizens of Boston to support hosting the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games," USOC Chief Executive Officer Scott Blackmun said in a statement. "Therefore the USOC does not think that the level of support enjoyed by Boston's bid would allow it to prevail."

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, who had been noncommittal in his support, said he had been waiting for a report by a private consultancy due next month before deciding whether to throw his weight behind the bid. He said USOC officials had pushed him to make a decision earlier than that.

His statement came hours after Mayor Marty Walsh said he would not sign the bid documents if they left city taxpayers vulnerable to cost overruns.

"No benefit is so great that it is worth handing over the financial future of our city," Walsh said.

Backers of the bid had scrambled to assuage residents' concerns about the cost, last week unveiling a plan to carry some $2 billion in insurance that it said would cover any unanticipated costs.

They said they were designing a lower-cost approach to the games in line with the International Olympic Committee's "Agenda 2020," which is intended to combat the rising spending levels that broke records during recent games in Sochi, Russia. Russia spent some $50 billion on the 2014 Winter Games.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said his city, which hosted one of the most successful games in US history in 1984, was interested in taking Boston's place.

"Los Angeles is the ideal Olympic city," Garcetti said. "I would be happy to engage in discussions with the USOC about how to present the strongest and most fiscally responsible bid on behalf of our city and nation."

In Washington, a spokeswoman for Mayor Muriel Bowser said it was "too early to say" what the move meant for the capital's Olympic hopes.

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