USOC eyes majority support for Boston 2024 ‘relatively soon’

Boston 2024
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U.S. Olympic Committee chairman Larry Probst said the organization would like to see local support for the Boston 2024 Olympic bid clear 50 percent “relatively soon,” while praising “a tremendous amount of progress” by bid organizers in recent weeks.

USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said officials have and will continue to conduct regular polling but would not share specific numbers. Probst said support is in the low- to mid-40 percent range, similar to numbers from recent polls by Boston media.

“Rather than specific numbers, we obviously want to see a positive trend, and the sooner the better,” Probst said after a quarterly USOC board of directors’ meeting in California on Tuesday. “Obviously, we’d like to see it get over 50 percent relatively soon and ultimately get into the mid-60s range, certainly before the vote of the [International Olympic Committee] in 2017 [to choose the 2024 Olympic host city].

“Obviously none of us are happy with the current numbers in Boston, but it’s a process, and it’s going to play out over the next 2 1/2 years.”

Boston was announced by the USOC as its 2024 Olympic bid city on Jan. 8, beating out Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

Blackmun said there haven’t been conversations with any of the other three cities.

“If at any point we sit down and decide, you know what, this thing just isn’t on track, I’m sure that’s something that’ll be a mutual decision, not something that’s forced on,” Blackmun said. “We’re not discussing right now the possibility of not submitting a bid. What we’re talking about is how do we increase the level of public support in Boston. How do we get the people of Boston to take a fair and hard look at this proposal and try to determine, is it in Boston’s best interests? That’s what we’re focused on.”

Boston officials announced March 24 that the bid would not move forward if a majority of voters in Boston and in Massachusetts did not support it in a referendum planned for November 2016.

“Obviously that’s a weakness of the bid right now,” Blackmun said of support numbers. “We want to make sure we turn that into a strength if we can.”

Boston 2024 announced changes to the original bid plan in recent weeks, including a “version 2.0” released Monday.

“It’s a plan that we think still very much resonates with the vision that persuaded our board to pick Boston in January,” Blackmun said. “Suffice it to say our board was very impressed with the quality of the thought, on the incredible diligence that went into creating the plan, and we’re grateful for the unbelievably hard work and commitment that’s gone into this over the last couple of months.”

USOC officials said another meeting with Boston 2024 officials is planned for mid-July.

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