Boston to Represent U.S. in Bid for 2024 Olympics

Officials met behind closed-doors in Colorado before delivering the news.

A lot has been said about whether Boston should host the 2024 Olympics. But the United States Olympic Committee had the final word: Yes.

Following a closed-door meeting at the Denver International Airport on Thursday afternoon, board members from the USOC announced that Boston will represent the U.S. for the 2024 bid for the Summer Games, beating out three other major American cities.

“We’re excited about our plans to submit a bid for the 2024 Games, and feel we have an incredibly strong partner in Boston that will work with us to present a compelling bid,” said USOC Chairman Larry Probst in a statement.

Mayor Marty Walsh said it was an “exceptional honor” to be chosen as the U.S. representative in the running for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic games.

“This selection is a recognition of our city’s talent, diversity, and global leadership. Our goal is to host an Olympic and Paralympic games that are innovative, walkable, and hospitable to all. Boston hopes to welcome the world’s greatest athletes to one of the world’s great cities,” Walsh said in a statement.

For months, city residents and elected officials have been patiently—and tensely—waiting to find out if Boston would emerge the frontrunner for the U.S. bid, and get the chance to possibly become home to the three-week international sporting event. For some, the USOC’s announcement Thursday was cause for alarm, and was met by angry comments.

Others, though, were excited by the news for obvious reasons. Members of Boston 2024, the private organization that backed and bankrolled the plan to try and bring the Olympics to the area, were enthusiastic.

“We are honored to be the U.S. bid city to host the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic games. We are ready to engage in a community process about the opportunity presented by hosting the games, and eager to share the best of Boston with the world,” organizers said.

The 15 members that make up the USOC unanimously voted for Boston, and have plans to fly to the potential host city to discuss their choice on Friday. The city was up against Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

While exciting for some Massachusetts residents rallying for the games to happen here, the bid selection marks just the first step in an arduous process that will play out until 2017, when the International Olympic Committee will ultimately choose between one of several cities from around the world vying to host the games.

The IOC will meet with representatives from each applicant city in October, in Switzerland, to discuss procedural matters for the next phase of the bidding campaign. Cities will then have until January 8, 2016, to submit final bids.

“Today’s selection by the USOC is the beginning of an incredible opportunity for Boston,” said Boston 2024 Chairman John Fish.

Long before Boston 2024 officially submitted their preliminary proposal to the USOC, tensions flared between those for and against hosting the event.

No Boston Olympics,” a grassroots group of organizers staunchly opposed to the idea, has been spearheading efforts to sway residents to their side of the argument. The group has claimed from the beginning that the games will leave residents with financial burdens in the wake of the celebrations. They even went as far as sending a letter directly to the USOC, explaining and outlining why Boston would be a bad choice.

The group said Thursday that the USOC’s decision to pick Boston as a U.S. representative was unfortunate.

“Boston is a world-class city. Not because the USOC wants us to throw them a multi-billion dollar party, but because of the remarkable things that Bostonians do each and every day,” they said. “Sending a bid to the International Olympic Committee would be an unfortunate change.”

The group is planning to hold a public meeting to discuss what happens next, and has vowed to continue “fighting” this decision. “The boosters behind Boston 2024 won today—but our Commonwealth is poorer for it,” the group said in a statement.

The U.S. last hosted the Olympic games in 1996, in Atlanta, Georgia.