Boston Mayor Marty Walsh drew a line in the sand on Monday morning, saying he would rather not pursue the 2024 Olympics than put city taxpayers on the hook for cost overruns. And if refusing to sign that agreement ends Boston’s opportunity to host the Games, then so be it.
“If committing to signing a guarantee today is what’s required to move forward, then Boston is no longer pursuing’’ the Games, Walsh said.
Walsh’s decision does not, in itself, end Boston’s plans to host the Olympics. But it does put the ball in the U.S. Olympic Committee’s court. The decision to move forward with the Boston bid and submit it to the IOC in September now depends on its response to Walsh.
The USOC has pressured Boston to commit to signing a host city contract agreement, which includes language guaranteeing that Boston would pay for Olympic cost overruns.
Walsh said that he would not “mortgage the future of the city away’’ until he learned more about the exact wording of that cost overrun guarantee. However, that guarantee won’t be fully released until September. Walsh said his Office of Olympic Planning is unable to do an analysis of the bid’s potential costs without that full information.
“I think it’s unfortunate that it’s come to this point,’’ he said. “I’m not signing the agreement that’s going to cost the taxpayers to pony up if there’s overruns.’’
Walsh bristled at the USOC asking him to sign it ASAP.
“They don’t bully me,’’ he said.
In the midst of the public rebuke, though, Walsh affirmed his belief that hosting the Olympics would be beneficial for Boston in the immediate and long run. He also belittled Olympic opponents as “about 10 people on Twitter.’’
At the end of his press conference, Walsh was asked the core question: Is this the end of the bid?
“We’re going to see what happens and see how the USOC responds today,’’ he said.
Gallery: The major players of Boston’s Olympic bid.