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Boston Mayor Marty Walsh says he will not be rushed into signing a host city contract with the U.S. Olympic Committee without more assurances that taxpayers won't be held responsible for potential cost overruns.
"If committing to signing the guarantee today is what's required to move forward, then Boston is no longer pursuing the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games," Walsh told reporters during a hastily called news conference Monday morning.
Walsh said the USOC wants him to sign the contract as soon as possible, something he says he cannot do "in good faith." He said the city needs more time to vet insurance proposals from Boston 2024, the local group organizing the bid, and make sure taxpayers will not be left on the hook for any potential cost overruns.
Walsh has been an enthusiastic supporter of the bid. He said Monday he still thinks hosting the games would be an "incredible opportunity" for the city, but that he's hearing "too many other voices talking about Los Angeles" — a reference to rumors, which escalated over the weekend, that the USOC was considering pulling the plug on the Boston bid to develop one in that city.
Walsh didn't say the bid was dead by his estimation, but he hinted of no plans to do what's being asked of him.
"I will not sign a document that puts one dollar of taxpayers money on the line for one penny of overruns on the Olympics," Walsh said.
Walsh's Monday morning press conference coincided with Gov. Charlie Baker's scheduled meeting with the USOC.
On Friday, reports emerged that the USOC was pressing Gov. Baker for assurance that he would back the bid. Baker reiterated he would not take a stance until he sees the results of a state-commissioned report on the potential impacts of the game, due out in mid-August.
The official deadline to nominate a city isn't until Sept. 15, but the USOC is looking for answers right away. That's in part because there still could be time to get LA on board, and because there's a key International Olympic Committee meeting taking place later this week in Malaysia, where the 2024 bid will be a hot topic. Leaders of the Boston bid were expected to attend.
They've been under pressure to shore up public support. WBUR's latest poll numbers show public support in the 40 percent range.
Plans are being made for a voter referendum next year, and the bid leaders have promised if it doesn't win both in Boston and statewide, they would pull the bid.
With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom
This article was originally published on July 27, 2015.
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