Boston 2024 Gets Blessing From USOC, Orders to Raise Poll Numbers

USOC officials gave their blessing, again, to the troubled Boston bid.

Associated Press

Associated Press

The troubled bid to bring the 2024 Summer Olympics to Boston received a major boost on Tuesday when the United States Olympic Committee dismissed speculation that they were looking to pull the bid by giving the proposal its blessing.

National Olympic boosters said they were impressed by Bid 2.0 at their regularly scheduled meeting in San Francisco but urged organizers in Boston to raise their poll numbers.

“We want to see it get to 50 percent relatively soon, and ultimately get to the mid-60s range, certainly before the vote of the IOC,” said USOC Chairman Larry Probst at a press conference.

The International Olympic Committee will cull the herd of Olympic bids, or applicant cities, in the spring of 2016 to a smaller group of candidate cities before voting on a host in September 2017. One of the criteria the IOC heavily scrutinizes is local support for the games. No recent Summer Olympics has been awarded to a city with favorability numbers below 68 percent according to research by MassInc Polling.

The Bid 2.0 plan so wowed the USOC that they think it is strong enough to raise Boston 2024’s abysmal poll numbers that have shown support for the games at or under 40 percent since March. The plan released by Olympic boosters on Monday and shown to USOC officials on Tuesday was far more detailed than the one they showed to the public initially in January but still lacked specifics on financing and insurance.

“They’ve made great progress with the planning process, and we feel really good about working with Steve and his team,” said Probst, referencing newly named Boston 2024 chairman Steve Pagliuca.

Pagliuca told reporters that he thinks, given the newness of Bid 2.0, that the USOC’s demand for an improvement in polling numbers is reasonable.

“The polls are meaningful going forward, not in the past. And I was heartened by the fact that [the USOC is] looking for reasonable movement in the polls over time as we roll out this plan,” said Pagliuca.

Meanwhile on Beacon Hill, Gov. Charlie Baker made things interesting for the proposed referendum on the Olympics in a Globe report that claimed he said he is open to having a statewide vote on the games earlier in 2016 instead of on Election Day in November. Baker clarified those comments to the State House News Service on Wednesday through a spokesman saying that “he has no preference as to when the timing of any potential Olympic referendum should be held.”

In the past Baker has said that the vote should be held on the same day as the presidential election in November in order to get the highest number of people involved.