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Larry Probst, USOC chairman, to step down

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USOC chairman Larry Probst will step down from the board at the end of the year after 10 years as chair, succeeded by independent board member Susanne Lyons, the USOC acting CEO earlier this year.

“Serving as chairman of the USOC board of directors has been an extraordinary honor and I’m proud of the work we did during my tenure to support American athletes, and advance the Olympic and Paralympic movements,” Probst said in a press release. “I became chairman at a difficult time for the USOC and worked diligently with my colleagues here in the U.S., and around the world, to change the USOC for the better. It’s now time for a new generation of leaders to confront the challenges facing the organization and I have the utmost confidence in Susanne’s and Sarah’s ability to do just that.”

Probst was first elected chairman in 2008, then reelected in 2012 and 2016.

Probst, whose IOC membership is tied to his USOC role, said he will meet with IOC president Thomas Bach later this month as he looks for ways he may stay involved in the Olympic Movement.

Lyons was acting CEO from Feb. 28-Aug. 20, replacing Scott Blackmun, until Sarah Hirshland took over as permanent CEO.

Blackmun stepped down after eight years as CEO in February, citing difficulties with prostate cancer and the federation’s need to urgently move forward to address the sex abuse scandal that has rocked gymnastics.

Lyons was first elected to the board in December 2010 and will serve a four-year term as chair starting Jan. 1.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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USOC has ‘100 percent’ confidence in Boston 2024

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U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun said the “first and foremost” priority for Boston’s 2024 Olympic bid is to “assure the people of Boston that this is a fiscally responsible bid.”

“I have 100 percent confidence that Boston 2024 will be able to do that,” Blackmun said Friday, after Boston bid leaders gave a progress report to the USOC in Washington, D.C.

Blackmun referenced a Boston radio station February poll that resulted in 44 percent of Boston-area residents supporting the 2024 Olympic bid.

The pollster who conducted the survey of 505 Boston-area registered voters told the radio station that a drop in support (from 51 percent in January) had to do with concern over where money should best be spent given recent snowstorms causing public transit problems.

“Do we wish that the approval ratings were higher than 44 percent? Absolutely, we do,” Blackmun said. “But, candidly, it’s much more important that those numbers be high 2 1/2 years from now than it is that they be high now. We have plenty of time to allow this trajectory to unfold and complete confidence in Boston 2024’s ability to do that.”

The International Olympic Committee will vote in 2017 to pick the 2024 Olympic host city. Boston is going up against Rome, either Berlin or Hamburg and possibly Paris, among other cities.

“I think Boston is where they need to be right now,” Blackmun said. “I think they purposefully waited to socialize this plan fully with their community until they were named [as the U.S. bid city on Jan. 8].”

Boston 2024 launched a series of 20 community meetings across Massachusetts in 20 weeks, providing a forum for public input.

“I think the people who are asking questions are asking the right questions,” Blackmun said. “This is exactly the point of the process that we should be in.”

USOC leadership said it asked Boston’s bid group about those polling results and its communication strategy, along with a discussion of how well Boston’s plan fits with the International Olympic Committee’s vision for future Olympics.

Blackmun pointed to more than 60 percent of potential Boston Olympic venues being related to colleges and universities, so they could still be used after the Games, and the Boston plan being more walkable than a lot of recent Olympics.

“I think that after this process runs its course, the people in Boston will have confidence on the most important issue of all here, which is, can we do this without tapping into the resources of the city of Boston?” Blackmun said. “I think the answer to that question is going to be yes.”

2024 Olympics news

USOC likely to narrow list of 2024 cities on June 10

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The U.S. Olympic Committee will likely choose two or three finalist cities for its potential 2024 Olympic bid at a June 10 meeting in Boston.

The finalists will likely come from a list that includes Boston, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington. New York and Philadelphia’s mayors said their cities were not interested.

“Those cities won’t be made public,” USOC chairman Larry Probst told Sports Business Daily. “We are going to try to manage this process so no one’s feelings get hurt or no one is spending too much money on a bid. … We have to believe we have a pretty significant chance of winning that competition. It has to be as close to perfect as possible, but I think there is a feeling that the Games have to come back to the United States.”

The U.S. has not bid since Chicago lost the 2016 Olympic election to Rio de Janeiro in 2009. The U.S. has not hosted an Olympics since the 2002 Winter Games, its longest drought since a stretch from 1932 to 1960.

The USOC is expected to decide if it will bid for the 2024 Olympics, and which city, by the end of the year.

No official 2024 Olympic bids have been submitted yet, though Paris and Rome have been talked about.

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