Why Boston won't be the host city for the 2024 Olympics after all

The end of Boston’s bid comes as no surprise, as public support, bogged down by poor communication and active opposition, has throughout the process been tepid at best.

Winslow Townson/AP/File
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh speaks during a news conference in Boston after the city was picked by the USOC as its bid city for the 2024 Olympic Summer Games, Jan. 9. Mayor Walsh said Monday, he won't sign a host city contract, which is key to the city's bid, without more assurances that taxpayers won't foot the bill.

Boston can say goodbye to the idea of hosting the Olympics.

The city and the US Olympic Committee have severed ties after a board teleconference Monday, a source familiar with the decision told the Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision had not yet been made public.

The end of Boston’s bid comes as no surprise, as public support, bogged down by poor communication and active opposition, has throughout the process been tepid at best. The decision also reflects a broader problem for the Olympic movement – one that sees more cities saying “no thank you” to the prospect of hosting a massive, multibillion dollar sports event, The Christian Science Monitor’s Henry Gass reported.

“The Olympics have weathered world wars, boycotts, and corruption scandals,” the AP reported in May 2014. “These days, the IOC [International Olympic Committee] has a new crisis on its hands: Finding cities willing to host the games.”

Indeed, interest in the 2022 Winter Olympics is so low that only two cities remain in the running, the others having withdrawn from the race: Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan. The main culprit appears to be the potential financial burden, as seen in the $51 billion price tag associated with the last Winter Olympics in Sochi and in the delays ahead of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

“Underestimating Olympic costs has almost become an Olympic sport in itself,” Jules Boykoff, an associate professor of political science at Pacific University in Oregon and a former professional athlete, wrote in an opinion piece for the Guardian. “In the post 9/11 era, escalating security costs have contributed to Olympic overspending.

“[In the 2012 Olympics] in London, this meant attaching surface-to-air missile batteries to local apartment buildings and the deployment of more than 18,000 military personnel,” he continued. “None of this is cheap.”

The story is no different in Boston, where Mayor Marty Walsh announced earlier Monday that he would not be pressured into signing the host city contract that puts the city on the hook for any cost overruns.

“I will not sign a document that puts one dollar of taxpayers' money on the line for one penny of overruns on the Olympics,” he said.

Gov. Charlie Baker had also been unwilling to pledge his support, instead waiting for a full report from a consulting group that wasn’t due to be completed until August.

As a result, public buy-in was also increasingly hard to secure: Only 51 percent of Boston-area voters supported the idea of hosting the Olympics when news of the bid broke in January. By the end of March, that number had sunk to less than 40 percent, where it stayed through June.

With Beantown out of the running and only seven weeks left before cities have to be officially nominated, the USOC faces growing pressure. The likeliest choice for a host city is Los Angeles, reports say.

The Untied States has not hosted a Summer Olympics since the Atlanta Games in 1996, or any Olympics since the Salt Lake City Winter Games in 2002.

This report contains material from the Associated Press.

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