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Boston 2024 Olympics group brings in Mitt Romney

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A group in Boston is exploring a potential bid for the 2024 Olympics, and it’s got some star power.

An elite group of city leaders is “quietly exploring the prospect,” including bringing in 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics Organizing Committee president Mitt Romney as a key adviser, according to the Boston Globe.

“Boston would be a fantastic place for the Summer Games,” Romney told the newspaper. “It would be a marvelous community-building experience for Boston, and I think the people who would enjoy the games with or without tickets would say it was one of the best experiences of their life.”

Group leader John F. Fish, chairman of Suffolk Construction, hosted a U.S. Olympic Committee delegation over two days in October, according to the newspaper.

New England Patriots and New England Revolution owner Robert Kraft has also been consulted by the group.

“Just looking at it from our point of view, we’re probably going to seriously consider a downtown soccer stadium somewhere in Boston or the Greater Boston area,” Kraft told the newspaper. “We would try to help tailor something that could serve the needs of the Olympics and also our soccer team.”

The Globe pointed out potential issues that would have to be resolved for a Boston bid:

Though Boston is packed with athletic venues that could potentially host events, the city lacks several major components necessary to host a Summer Olympics. Transportation between venues in a cramped city with an aging subway system would also have to be closely examined. And supporters would have to galvanize political and community support for hosting the Games and show that potentially expensive facilities could be beneficial to the city long after the Olympic torch is put out.

The U.S. hasn’t hosted an Olympics since the 2002 Winter Games and is in the middle of its longest stretch between hosting Olympics since a 28-year gap between 1932 and 1960.

In February, the U.S. Olympic Committee sent letters to mayors of 35 cities to gauge interest in potential bids for 2024.

In March, Boston mayor Thomas Menino said the idea of bringing the Olympics to the city would be “far-fetched.”

In October, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed a bill to form a commission to look into a potential 2024 Boston Olympic bid with a completed report due  in March.

“It’s a huge-impact event,” Romney told the Globe. “It’s like 20 Super Bowls all at once. The transportation has to be completely redone. The fund-raising and marketing of the Games is extensive. It’s an amazing undertaking.”

USOC chairman Larry Probst said 2024 Olympic bidding will be talked about at USOC meetings in December, when a timetable for the selection of a city could be created. Bidding for the 2024 Olympic host begins in 2015, and the IOC will vote in 2017.

Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Dallas and Philadelphia are among other cities that have expressed interest.

Probst said in September that if the USOC decides to bid, which would not be until 2014, that it will come from “not a long list of cities, realistically.”

L.A. moves forward with 2024 bid process

Ex-USA Gymnastics doctor pleads guilty to sexual assault

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A sports doctor accused of molesting girls while working for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University pleaded guilty Wednesday to multiple charges of sexual assault and will face at least 25 years in prison.

Larry Nassar, 54, was charged with molesting seven girls, mostly under the guise of treatment at his Lansing-area home and a campus clinic.

All but one of his accusers was a gymnast. He faces similar charges in a neighboring county and lawsuits filed by more than 125 women and girls.

Olympic gymnasts Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Gabby Douglas are among the women who have publicly said they were among Nassar’s victims.

Some of his accusers attended the hearing Wednesday in a packed Ingham County courtroom.

The plea deal in Ingham County calls for a minimum prison sentence of 25 years, but a judge could set the minimum sentence as high as 40 years. In Michigan, inmates are eligible for parole after serving a minimum sentence.

Sentencing was set for Jan. 12.

The girls have testified that Nassar molested them with his hands, sometimes when a parent was present in the room, while they sought help for gymnastics injuries.

“He convinced these girls that this was some type of legitimate treatment,” Assistant Attorney General Angela Poviliatis told a judge last summer. “Why would they question him? Why would they question this gymnastics god?”

Separately, Nassar is charged with similar crimes in Eaton County, the location of an elite gymnastics club. He also is awaiting sentencing in federal court on child pornography charges.

The Michigan criminal cases against Nassar followed reports last year in the Indianapolis Star about how USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians, mishandled complaints about sexual misconduct involving the doctor and coaches.

Women and girls said the stories inspired them to step forward with detailed allegations of abuse, sometimes when their parents were in the exam room at Michigan State.

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MORE: Aly Raisman in book: ‘Horrible memories’ with Larry Nassar

Indian police probe Maria Sharapova housing fraud case

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NEW DELHI (AP) — Maria Sharapova is being investigated by police in India in a cheating and criminal conspiracy case involving a real estate company who used the tennis star to endorse a luxury housing project that never took off.

Real estate firm Homestead Infrastructure is accused of taking tens of millions of rupees (millions of dollars) from home buyers for a project named “Ballet by Maria Sharapova,” a luxury apartment complex with its own helipad, tennis academy and other amenities.

The five-time Grand Slam champion and Olympic silver medalist traveled to India in 2013 to launch the project at a glitzy ceremony. Police began the investigation on Nov. 16.

Piyush Singh, a lawyer representing one of the home buyers, said Wednesday that Sharapova’s celebrity was the reason most people put their money into the project.

Singh said his client, Bhawana Agarwal, paid Homestead Infrastructure 5.3 million rupees ($81,678) in 2013 because she was impressed by Sharapova’s association with the project located in Gurgaon, a suburb of the Indian capital. The cost of an apartment in the swanky project was 20 million rupees ($308,000).

Agarwal then spent the next three years chasing the builders for updates on the property and her investment in it but they stopped taking her calls, Singh said. On Wednesday, several calls to the numbers of the building company’s website went unanswered.

“The project never saw the light of day,” Singh said.

Singh said the police investigation based on his client’s complaint was testing relatively new legal ground – that celebrities endorsing projects that draw vast sums of money from investors had a responsibility “to do some due diligence” on the project before lending their name and credibility to it.

Sharapova isn’t the only international sports celebrity that the real estate firm roped in. Its website also advertises a project with Formula One great Michael Schumacher called the Michael Schumacher World Tower.

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MORE: Sharapova not fully committed to 2020 Olympic run