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Boston Revises Contract With USOC, Dropping Language Limiting Speech Of City Employees

Another view of the proposed Olympic stadium. Boston 2024 president Dan O’Connell said Widett Circle is their first choice for the stadium, but if that location didn’t work out they may consider Suffolk Downs.
Another view of the proposed Olympic stadium. Boston 2024 president Dan O’Connell said Widett Circle is their first choice for the stadium, but if that location didn’t work out they may consider Suffolk Downs.
This article is more than 4 years old.

The city of Boston has revised its agreement with the U.S. Olympic Committee, dropping language that barred city employees from criticizing Boston's bid to host the 2024 Summer Games.

Controversy erupted last month after The Boston Globe first reported that Mayor Marty Walsh had signed a contract with the USOC that included language that appeared to limit the speech of city employees.

Walsh insisted he was not looking to limit free speech, saying the contract included "standard boilerplate language" that all past host cities had signed. He told city employees they would not face consequences for sharing their opinions.

The new agreement drops the entire section regarding the speech of city employees, as well as one that appeared to prohibit the public release of information about the city's agreement with the USOC.

"This revised agreement is the result of positive negotiations with the United States Olympic Committee to reach a consensus that accurately represents how Boston is moving forward with our Olympic bid," Walsh said in a statement Tuesday.

There was also language added to the new agreement that protects the city in the event that there is a statewide or local referendum on the issue. It reads:

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the City explicitly does not represent or warrant that a public referendum or initiative petition, binding or non-binding, related to the IOC Bid will not occur at the State or local level.

Another line was also added that appears to protect the city from having to reimburse the USOC for any losses arising from "a State or local law prohibiting the hosting of the 2024 Olympic Games in Boston."

Several opponents of bringing the Games to Boston have expressed interest in holding a voter referendum on the issue, including the group No Boston Olympics.

Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim is also trying to get several nonbinding Olympics-related questions on the citywide ballot in November.

Mayor Walsh has said he does not support a public vote, but supports the right of the public to pursue one.

A WBUR poll conducted earlier this month found opposition to hosting the Games had grown by 13 points in just one month — with 46 percent of Boston-area residents against the bid, and 44 percent for it.

Earlier:

Abby Elizabeth Conway Twitter Digital Producer/Editor
Abby Elizabeth Conway was formerly a digital producer and editor at WBUR.

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