BOSTON The Olympic flame just got one step closer to Boston.
The U.S. Olympic Committee announced Thursday that Boston will be the American bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics and Paralympics — beating out proposals from San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
“This selection is in recognition of our city’s talent, diversity and global leadership,” Mayor Marty Walsh said in a statement. “Our goal is to host an Olympic and Paralympic Games that are innovative, walkable and hospitable to all. Boston hopes to welcome the world’s greatest athletes to one of the world’s great cities.”
Newly sworn-in Gov. Charlie Baker said a bid “provides an exciting opportunity to promote Massachusetts on the world stage.”
“I look forward to working with Mayor Walsh and the Boston 2024 organization to address the multitude of issues that need to be discussed, including keeping costs down and continuing to press forward on pledges of a privately funded Olympics as the process moves forward before the IOC,” Baker added.
Not everyone is pleased with the news.
In a statement released after the announcement, the group No Boston Olympics said sending a bid to the International Olympic Committee “threatens to divert resources” from the priorities Baker mentioned in his inaugural address earlier Thursday.
“The boosters behind Boston2024 won today — but our Commonwealth is poorer for it,” the statement concluded.
Boston isn’t the first city to face opposition to hosting the Games. Several European cities recently withdrew their bids for the 2022 Winter Olympics in the face of lackluster public support, sky-rocketing costs and the “high-handed demands” of the IOC, according to Businessweek.
John Fish, chair of the privately funded nonprofit behind Boston’s bid, said in a statement that going forward the group is “committed to a thorough and extensive process to discuss the potential opportunity the Olympic and Paralympic Games present our community.”
“Boston Games can be one of the most innovative, sustainable and exciting in history and will inspire the next generation of leaders here and around the world,” said Fish, who is also CEO of Suffolk Construction.
The city still faces stiff international competition, NPR reports, “including Rome, a yet-to-be-named German city, and possibly Paris or South Africa.” And if South Africa bids, “some in the IOC may be tempted to stage Africa’s first Olympics ever, as the organization seeks to spread the spirit of the Games.”
WBUR’s Curt Nickisch was in California last month when Boston made its presentation to the USOC. While the meeting was closed and Boston’s $4.5 billion proposal has not been made public, Nickisch spoke to the team that presented the bid, including Fish and Mayor Walsh.
The pitch went like this: Boston would partner with its universities to host a more fiscally responsible Olympic Games, reusing venues and housing. The three other cities that went before made similar arguments for sustainability.
But Boston went one step further than its competition, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. The Games would be walkable with a little help from public transportation.
A 2024 American bid, The Associated Press reports, is all about showing that the U.S. understands the International Olympic Committee’s new vision:
Including the new direction IOC president Thomas Bach pointed toward in his batch of reforms called “Agenda 2020,” which is supposed to make the Olympics a more sleek, flexible and, in the best-case scenario, less-expensive endeavor.
The USOC asked all the cities to keep costs down, use facilities that were already in place and only build infrastructure the city would use even if it weren’t hosting an Olympics. They all responded by presenting operating budgets under $5 billion and stressed frugality (in comparison to past Olympics, at least) in their presentations.
Final bids from all of the international contenders are due to the IOC in January 2016. A final decision on a host is expected in 2017.