KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — IOC President Thomas Bach said Boston was firmly to blame for its aborted bid for the 2024 Olympics, saying the city failed to deliver on “promises” made to U.S. Olympic leaders when they selected the Massachusetts capital as the American candidate for the games.
Bach also said Wednesday the IOC has a “commitment” from the U.S. Olympic Committee that it will put forward a bid city for 2024, though he declined to endorse any other contender. Los Angeles is considered the USOC’s likely choice ahead of the Sept. 15 deadline for official submission of candidates.
The International Olympic Committee leader gave his first extensive comments on the demise of the Boston bid, which was dropped amid poor public support, strong local opposition and lack of full political commitment.
“From the outside, I gave up following (the bid’s troubles),” Bach said. “It was pretty confusing. Every day there was a new project coming from Boston or new people and new ideas. I really gave up following it in detail. But what we could see in a nutshell what happened there is that Boston did not deliver on promises they made to the USOC when they were selected.”
Bach also said he hopes the decision on the next U.S. bid city will involve discussions that are “a little bit more oriented on facts than emotions.”
Ever since Boston was selected as the U.S. nominee ahead of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, the bid struggled to gain local support and wallowed in approval ratings below 50 percent amid concern over the potential cost to taxpayers.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said he wouldn’t throw his weight behind the bid without a full report from a consulting group. And Mayor Marty Walsh said Monday he wouldn’t be pressured into signing the host city contract if it would stick the city and state with paying for any cost overruns.
“We can understand his disappointment at Bostonians not wanting to host and pay for his $10 billion party,” No Boston Olympics co-chair Christopher Dempsey said. “But the demands that the IOC makes to host cities is unreasonable. It’s not a good deal for taxpayers.”
The USOC cut ties with Boston on Monday, with less than two months to find a replacement for a race that includes Paris; Rome; Hamburg, Germany; and Budapest, Hungary. Toronto and Baku, Azerbaijan, are also likely contenders.
Bach is determined to have a strong candidate from the U.S., which hasn’t hosted a Summer Games since Atlanta in 1996.
“For us the situation has not changed,” he said. “We had a commitment from USOC for an Olympic candidature for 2024. We have this commitment. We’re sure that USOC will deliver on this commitment, and that we will have on the 15th of September, a bid from the United States.”
“The United States is one of the few countries in the world who has the luxury of having a number of cities which are capable of organizing Olympic Games,” he added.
Bach wouldn’t comment on the prospect of a bid from Los Angeles, which staged the 1932 and 1984 Olympics and now seems poised for a shot at joining London as a three-time host. Several IOC executive board members have already spoken in favor of a Los Angeles bid.
“It is now an internal issue for USOC to determine the most appropriate city,” Bach said. “It’s not up to the IOC to give unsolicited advice on this. I’m sure that USOC will find the best solution.”