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.”