Cambridge’s Criticism of Boston’s Olympic Bid Continues

Councilor Tim Toomey, who filed a policy order to express the city's discontent with how the bid process was handled, is fuming.

Boston’s 2024 Olympic bid is in, and the presentation of the proposal to host the games in the city is over.

And although some sources are claiming Boston’s was the “weakest” of the four plans put before the United States Olympic Committee this week, officials in Cambridge are still reeling over the fact that the privately funded organization that backed the submission didn’t talk with surrounding municipalities about the pitch before forging ahead.

“I have just one question for Boston 2024, the private group that put Boston into the running as a potential host for the 2024 Olympic Games: just who asked you, anyway?’” said Cambridge City Councilor Tim Toomey, in a letter sent to Boston on Wednesday.

The letter, written one day after Mayor Marty Walsh and those in favor of bringing the summer games to Boston flew to California to plead their case in front of USOC officials, echoes similar concerns voiced by the group “No Boston Olympics” in regards to the lack of transparency and public input that went into pulling together a bid proposal.

“Not a single vote, public meeting, or hearing preceded the submission of Boston 2024’s bid to the US Olympic Committee…in fact, we don’t even know what is in the bid. When asked, the organizers have refused to reveal any of the bid documents to the public,” said Toomey, who was behind a recent policy order passed by the Cambridge City Council that put on record their discontent with Boston’s failed attempts to bring the sister city into the conversation.

“The future of the greater Boston region, its citizens, and our scarce tax dollars are being gambled with by a handful of unelected people who stand to reap huge profits if the International Olympic Committee selects Boston as host city,” he said.

The likelihood that Boston will emerge victorious remains in the balance since three other cities, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., are all in the running to represent the U.S. as potential hosts. Beyond that, the International Olympics Committee will need to choose from a larger pool of applicants that will include cities from around the world.

Even so, Toomey remains upset about how everything has been handled so far.

“If hosting the Olympic games is as good of an idea as Boston 2024 says, then they should be welcoming public input, not hiding from it. Unfortunately, the most transparent thing about this group so far has been how little they care about what the rest of us think,” he said.

Upon returning from California, where Boston 2024 members and Walsh met with USOC officials, the mayor said he was pleased with the group’s presentation, and that the city was in “a very strong position as far as moving forward.”

Walsh told the State House News Service that as part of the proposal, they told the USOC that Boston won’t be “putting money into building venues” for the games, and instead will rely on “a lot of collaboration with the universities and colleges, and possibly city-owned land that we could build on.”

“We will not be investing financially in a venue,” said Walsh.

But Toomey said Wednesday that other cities that have hosted the Olympics made similar guarantees.

“We know from the history of the games that the promises made to host cities are rarely delivered upon. Local and state governments emerge from the games saddled with debt that puts important public projects on hold, while advertisers, corporate sponsors, and fat-cat members of the IOC cash in,” he said. “Public resources are stretched thin and important initiatives are put on hold as the attention of legislators and other public officials becomes dominated for years by Olympic preparation. Issues that are far more important than any sporting event ever could be—homelessness, hunger, workforce development, and the education of our children—are pushed aside.”

Walsh said he does not want to leave behind debt from the Olympics if the city is chosen, however, and that “making sure that we have homeless shelters, making sure we have places for our rehab programs, making sure we have balanced budgets and our educational system gets better” are his top priorities, according to the State House News.