June has shaped up as a key month for Boston’s Olympic ambitions, and organizers are still struggling to capture public support to bolster their efforts.
Olympic bidding group Boston 2024 will travel to a United States Olympic Committee board meeting on June 29 and 30, which could prove to be a major checkpoint for the troubled bid.
Boston 2024 CEO Rich Davey told Boston.com in late May that he did not see that meeting as “make or break’’ for the bid. The USOC has consistently said it is sticking with Boston’s bid, though one member of the committee went off-script last month when she said there was “no guarantee’’ that the committee would bring Boston to the international stage.
Questions still linger on whether the USOC will ultimately go forward with Boston. The Associated Press and insider news site GamesBids.com both recently outlined the choices the USOC faces—it could stick with Boston, it could switch to another city (most likely Los Angeles), or it could decide to punt on the 2024 bidding process altogether and regroup for the next cycle.
Such a decision may not come out of the June meeting. The USOC has until September 15 to declare a bidding city to the International Olympic Committee. But the Boston bid’s struggle to capture public support was discussed at the USOC’s last quarterly meeting in March, and it figures to be a point of discussion at the end of this month, too.
Especially considering the most recent findings in a poll released Wednesday. Three months after that March meeting, things haven’t gotten noticeably better.
WBUR and MassINC have led the cadence of Olympics-related polling since Boston became the U.S. bidding city in January, with polls in January, February, March, and April focusing on Greater Boston residents. They took the question statewide this month, asking more than 500 voters from across the Bay State how they felt about hosting the 2024 Summer Games.
Only 39 percent said they were in support, compared to 49 percent opposed.
Support was lowest in Boston and its suburbs, where only 37 percent said they were in favor—hardly budging from the 36 percent and 40 percent Greater Boston support found in March and April respectively. WBUR only once found majority or plurality support in the Boston area for hosting the games, back in January.
Beyond the USOC meeting, June is important for Boston 2024 for another reason: the group says that by the end of the month it will release an updated version of its bidding plans.
That’s expected to include proposed new venues, some of which may be moved to locations elsewhere in the state. In fact, the venue naming process has already begun, as last week Boston 2024 announced it would hold sailing events an hour outside the city.
That’s where Boston 2024 may be able to pluck a little bit of good news—and an opportunity—out of the new statewide poll. According to the poll, a slim majority (51 percent) said they would support the idea of hosting the Olympics if venues were spread across the state. Even Boston-area voters showed a plurality of support for that idea.
Boston 2024’s original bidding plans included some venues outside the city, with soccer planned for Gillette Stadium in Foxborough and boxing planned for Lowell. But taking further advantage of increased support for a statewide games could conflict with a bid has been sold both to the public and to the USOC as a walkable Olympics.
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