Thomas Bach: Boston bid for 2024 Olympics is ‘a strong one’
LONDON — Boston Strong – even IOC President Thomas Bach seems to have adopted the slogan.
Bach welcomed Boston’s selection as the U.S. candidate for the 2024 Olympics, saying the Massachusetts capital will be a serious contender in a potentially crowded high-profile global race for the biggest hosting prize in sports.
”The Boston bid will be a strong one,” Bach said Friday, perhaps unwittingly referencing the ”Boston Strong” motto symbolizing the city’s recovery from the 2013 marathon bombing. ”Bostonians are well known for their enthusiasm for sport and the city has a great heritage in sport, science and education.”
The U.S. Olympic Committee selected Boston as its bid nominee Thursday, choosing New England’s largest city ahead of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington.
The USOC is hoping Boston – the cradle of the American revolution, a city with a European flavor, renowned for its colleges and universities – can bring the Summer Games back to the U.S. for the first time in nearly three decades.
”The bid also has the great potential to build on the strength of the athletes from the U.S. Olympic Team,” Bach said. ”U.S. athletes have a worldwide reputation and will be a huge asset for the bid.”
The U.S. hasn’t hosted the Summer Games since the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. New York failed in a bid for the 2012 Games, and Chicago was rejected for the 2016 Olympics.
”The IOC will welcome a bid from the USOC and Boston is a distinguished historical city,” IOC vice president Craig Reedie of Britain told The Associated Press. ”The economy in the USA is recovering and may provide a sound basis for the candidature. I look forward to reading the details of the proposals.”
Other International Olympic Committee members said in interviews that Boston is relatively unknown internationally and will need to promote itself to the voters in a global field that could include cities such as Rome, Paris and Berlin. In addition, the Boston bid faces a vocal and organized local opposition movement.
Rome, which hosted the 1960 Olympics, is the only other city already put forward as a candidate. Germany will choose between Berlin and Hamburg. France will decide next month whether to push ahead with a proposed Paris bid.
South Africa is also considering whether to join the race. Other possible candidates include Budapest, Hungary; Istanbul, Turkey; Doha, Qatar; and Baku, Azerbaijan.
The IOC will open an ”invitation phase” for potential bidders on Jan. 15. Formal applications don’t have to be made until Sept. 15. The host city will be selected by the IOC in 2017 in Lima, Peru.
The U.S. was humiliated in its last two bids, with New York finishing fourth out of five cities in the vote that sent the 2012 Games to London and Chicago eliminated in the first round of the election won by Rio de Janeiro for 2016.
”I think they have a good concept and I think United States has a great possibility this time,” senior Norwegian IOC member Gerhard Heiberg told the AP in a telephone interview. ”It’s a long time since the games were in the States.”
Since Chicago’s defeat, the USOC has signed a new long-term revenue-sharing agreement with the IOC, new USOC chairman Larry Probst has become an IOC member, Anita DeFrantz has returned to the IOC executive board and USOC CEO Scott Blackmun has worked to mend fences.
”Times have changed a little bit, but it depends how they will present their candidature,” Swiss IOC member Gian-Franco Kasper told the AP. ”If they come back with the old arrogance they had before, then of course it will not be helpful. But I think they have learned the lesson too.”
While members said the time is right for the U.S. to bid again, whether the time is right for the games to be awarded to the U.S. is another issue.
”It is good for the Olympic Movement to have games in the U.S. – for many reasons – but there is no `right’ to be a host country and I think it would be a mistake to give that impression,” Canadian member Dick Pound told the AP. ”I do think that many members acknowledge that the treatment of Chicago in 2009 was inappropriate, so that may be something of an advantage in the new campaign.”
Heiberg dismissed suggestions the U.S. bid might be considered the early front-runner.
”I would not go that far,” he said. ”I think the USA has a good bid, and the timing is right, but I would not call them a favorite already at this stage.”