The leaders of the U.S. Olympic Committee are supposed to hear from the governor of Massachusetts on Monday. What he tells them could very well dictate the future of Boston’s bid for the 2024 Olympics.
The USOC wants to know whether Gov. Charlie Baker, notably noncommittal on the issue, supports the bid.
He is supposed to talk to the board members via conference call Monday. But the governor is waiting to see the full report from a consultant group he commissioned to analyze the bid. That report isn’t expected until next month, and at a news conference Friday, Baker said he wouldn’t have any answer for the USOC when he calls.
“This is a 10-year decision and I wouldn’t be doing the taxpayers … or the city of Boston or the Olympics or anybody else any favors if we made this decision with anything less than the full report,” Baker said Friday.
If he sticks to that stance, it could give the 16-member board the excuse it needs to ditch the Boston bid — a bold step it has refused so far, despite bad polling numbers, a much-changed bid plan and a growingly acrimonious debate between bid supporters and those who don’t want the games in Boston.
Last week, the release of Boston’s unredacted original plan caused some embarrassment, in part because it downplayed the possibility of a referendum that would allow voters to weigh in on their approval or disapproval of the Olympics. Bid organizers call the document nothing more than a “proof of concept” that has since been supplanted by an updated plan. But since the USOC picked Boston based on that original document, the referendum has become all but a certainty and organizers have vowed to stop their bid if voters don’t approve the Olympics.
Meanwhile, Boston mayor Marty Walsh has vowed his support of the bid, but the governor has yet to take a stance. The USOC has made it clear that support of city and state leaders is key to making the bid a success.
The board meeting comes the same week as a key meeting of the International Olympic Committee in Kuala Lumpur. The IOC will choose the host of the 2022 Winter Olympics, either Beijing or Almaty, Kazakhstan, though certainly the flux the Boston bid is in will be a popular topic.
It also takes place seven weeks before the Sept. 15 deadline to officially submit bids to the IOC. There could still be time to come up with another city, presumably Los Angeles, by cutting ties with Boston now. Too much longer a wait, however, and the USOC will lose the choice of a substitute city if it eventually decides Boston will not work.