The United States Olympic Committee has decided to drop Boston's much-criticized bid to host the 2024 Olympics, the organization has confirmed.
The USOC's decision follows a Monday meeting with Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) -- who had remained publicly neutral on the bid -- as well as an assertion from Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who said he would not bow to pressure to sign a contract that could leave taxpayers on the hook for major cost overruns.
The USOC and Boston 2024, the private group behind the bid, jointly decided to abandon the bid, they said in a statement.
In the statement, USOC chief executive Scott Blackmun said the inability to secure public support among Bostonians was the chief reason for dropping the proposal. Indeed, low polling numbers had plagued the effort for much of the year, and in July, half of Massachusetts residents said they opposed the city's Olympic bid.
The move to abandon the proposal, which comes just more than a month before the September deadline to submit final bids, will go down as an embarrassment for the USOC, whose decision to choose Boston as the American bid representative was controversial from the start. The organization, which can submit just one American city to be considered to host the games, chose Boston over Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco in January, despite an existing base of opposition.
Support for the bid plummeted shortly after the USOC's decision, as grassroots groups like No Boston Olympics organized against the International Olympic Committee-mandated "taxpayer guarantee," which requires the public to pick up the tab in the event of cost overruns or financial shortfalls, and argued the games would not significantly benefit the city's economy as organizers said it would. Pointing to previous Olympics and research into them, the groups warned the games could leave taxpayers on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars or more in unplanned costs and would not boost the economy or foster local development. No Boston Olympics, which had urged local lawmakers to oppose the taxpayer guarantee, reiterated its arguments after the USOC withdrew the city's bid.
"We need to move forward as a city, and today's decision allows us to do that on our own terms, not the terms of the USOC or IOC," No Boston Olympics said in a statement. "We're better off for having passed on Boston 2024."
The successful opposition to Boston's bid is yet another stern rebuke of the IOC. The IOC will soon announce whether Almaty, Kazakhstan, or Beijing will host the 2022 Winter Olympics, but it was left with those choices only after voters in multiple European cities -- including Munich, Oslo and Stockholm -- rejected possible bids amid fears of heavy cost overruns, such as those that plagued London's 2012 games and the $50 billion 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
The IOC last year adjusted its bidding requirements in an effort to foster more sustainable and cost-effective Olympics earlier this year, and Paris, Rome and other cities have submitted proposals to host the 2024 Olympics. But the low public support in Boston is perhaps indicative that fears of massive costs -- and economic arguments against the Olympics -- could continue to cause problems for the IOC going forward.
The USOC, meanwhile, has limited options moving forward. Blackmun said it would evaluate whether it could replace the Boston proposal with another city -- Los Angeles has long been rumored as ready to take Boston's place -- but it could also decide to forgo the 2024 bidding process altogether.
This is a developing story, and has been updated throughout.