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U.S. Olympic Committee Ends Bid To Bring 2024 Summer Games To Boston

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Boston will not be an Olympic city. The United States Olympic Committee and organizers in Boston say they're ending the city's campaign to bid for the 2024 for summer games. From member station WBUR in Boston, Curt Nickisch reports it came down to people there not being excited about the prospect.

CURT NICKISCH, BYLINE: It's been just six months since the U.S. Olympic Committee proudly announced that Boston had beat out San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles to be the U.S. choice to host the Summer Olympics. But today, USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said in a statement, Boston does not have enough public support to win the next level of competition. Paris, Rome and other world cities are vying to host the Olympics. Blackmun also cited the comments of Boston's mayor this morning. In a show of defiance, Marty Walsh said he was not ready to make the public responsible for any cost overruns, something that's customary in Olympics bids.

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MARTY WALSH: I refuse to mortgage the future of the city away. I refuse to put Boston on the hook for overruns, and I refuse to commit to signing a guarantee that uses taxpayer's dollars to pay for the Olympics.

NICKISCH: Walsh's statement was an about-face. For months, he had strongly supported Boston's effort to host the Olympics. Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker meanwhile stayed on the sidelines. He said he needed more time to study the bid before deciding whether to come out in favor.

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CHARLIE BAKER: The simple truth of the matter is this is a - you know, this is a ten-year decision.

NICKISCH: In the absence of a unified establishment, opponents flourished. They capitalized on Bostonians mistrust of large government efforts, such as the Big Dig construction project that went billions over budget. Opponents crammed community meetings and took over the conversation from the nonprofit group pushing the bid, Boston 2024. Chris Dempsey is with the opposition group No Boston Olympics.

CHRIS DEMPSEY: People really don't trust Boston 2024, and they don't trust the USOC, who are having these closed-door meetings, talking about their plans for the future without truly engaging the public and having this - these ideas come sort of bottom-up rather than top-down.

NICKISCH: Polling by WBUR showed that opponents here outnumber supporters. Boston 2024 tried to turn that around this summer by coming out with a new plan with more details about the finances and venues, but public support changed little. In a televised debate last week, U.S. Olympic Committee member Dan Doctoroff reiterated support for Boston in an exchange with the debate moderator.

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UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Then why were there rumors that you were looking at LA?

DAN DOCTOROFF: Rumors are rumors. They were never true. We were not looking at LA.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: So Boston is your city.

DOCTOROFF: Boston is our city.

NICKISCH: Not anymore - dropping the bid means the U.S. Olympic Committee could go with another city. It faces a mid-September deadline to submit a candidate to the International Olympic Committee. Eric Garcetti, the mayor of two-time Olympic host city Los Angeles says he's ready to have that conversation. For NPR News, I'm Curt Nickisch in Boston. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.