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Despite pressure from the US Olympic Committee (USOC), Boston mayor Martin J. Walsh will not sign an Olympic host city contract. His concern is that the cost of staging an Olympic Games in Boston would have to be covered by the taxpayers.
“I cannot commit to putting the taxpayers at risk,’’ Walsh said. “If committing to sign a guarantee today is what’s required to move forward, then Boston is no longer pursuing the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
This is the latest setback for the USOC since proposing Boston as a host city for the 2024 Summer Olympics. The bid has not received strong public support. A March 2015 poll by WBUR found that of 504 registered voters in the Boston area, only 36 percent back the idea of hosting the Olympics.
“The opposition in the polls, I don’t think it’s strong opposition,” Walsh said. “I think it’s concerned opposition. I think one of the main concerns is taxpayer dollars going into the Olympics.”
Today’s announcement leaves the next steps for the city’s bid uncertain. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker will not take a position until a report on the bid’s finances is completed next month. The USOC is slated to discuss the city’s status during a board meeting today. A signed host agreement is not due to the International Olympic Committee until September, and a host city will not be picked until 2017, so there is still time to reassess.
Mayor Walsh says he does not regret if Boston does not host the Olympics because it has given way to discussion about revitalizing some of the city’s neighborhoods. His main concern is ensuring that no financial peril is associated with becoming a host city for the games.
“I refuse to mortgage the future of the city away,’’ he said. “This is a commitment that I can’t make without ensuring the city and its residents will be protected.”