Boston faces stern opposition from some of the world’s leading cities after becoming the surprise choice as U.S. bid city for the 2024 Summer Games, Olympic analysts said.
“I’d say this is an uphill battle,” said David Wallechinsky, president of the International Society of Olympic Historians.
After New York and Chicago failed with bids for the 2012 and 2016 games, the U.S. Olympic Committee opted for Boston over Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington — three larger and better-known cities internationally. The U.S. didn’t bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics, which will be held in Tokyo.
Rivals in bidding for the world’s biggest multisports event probably will include Rome, which last staged the Olympics in 1960, 1924 host Paris, and Berlin or Hamburg in Germany, the birthplace of International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach. There also might be a bid out of Africa, which hasn’t hosted the Olympics before.
“Picking Boston is a gamble,” Wallechinsky said yesterday in a phone interview. “From an international perspective, it’s really something of an unknown. If you’re from Europe, Asia, Africa, what is Boston for the Olympics? Not really much.”
Boston can emulate 1992 host Barcelona, 1996 venue Atlanta, and Sochi in Russia, which staged last year’s Winter Games, and become a surprise winner, said Scott Blackmun, the chief executive officer of the USOC.
“As we sit here today, Boston is not as well known as New York, or Los Angeles or San Francisco, but at the end of the day we believe in the model that’s being put forward here,” Blackmun said yesterday on a conference call. “We’re certainly up to the task of informing people about what a great bid this is.”
With the IOC choosing the 2024 host in 2017, Blackmun said the USOC has two years to “try to educate, inform, excite” IOC members.
The bid by Boston, the 24th-biggest U.S. city by population, is attractive because it doesn’t rely heavily on public financing and will use facilities and dorm rooms at the area’s many colleges and universities, the USOC said.
The Boston Globe has reported the bid’s operating budget would be about $4.5 billion. By comparison, Russia spent a record $51 billion on the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
“I would be willing to bet that they can’t pull it off with $5 billion,” Wallechinsky said. “I can’t believe that that would be possible.”
Los Angeles, the second-biggest U.S. city by population, had the best odds, at 1-1, to win the U.S. bidding process, according to online bookmaker Bovada. Boston was second-favorite at 2-1, followed by San Francisco (4-1) and Washington (7-1), the 14th and 23rd-ranked cities respectively by inhabitants.
Bovada said it’s too soon to offer odds on which city will stage the games. Kevin Bradley, its sports book manager, said yesterday in an e-mail that hypothetically Boston would have around 5-1 odds right now, better than Paris, at 10-1, though trailing Rome, at 3-1.
Comcast Corp. (CMCSA)’s NBC in May agreed to pay $7.65 billion to extend its Olympics broadcasting rights for 12 more years through 2032.
In 2012, the U.S. signed a new revenue-sharing deal with the IOC, ending a dispute between the two sides that hampered the Chicago and New York bids.
Jacques Rogge, the former IOC president, said at a news conference after signing that deal that the IOC “will be in position to better function and the USOC will enhance its possibility in having a leading role in sport in the world.”
The U.S.’s financial investment in the Olympics, and Boston’s location, are factors that could help its bid, Wallechinsky said.
“The strength of the bid is that there is the U.S. money, and the time zone is not so bad, even for Europe, in comparison to say the west coast,” he said.