BOSTON (AP) — The U.S. Olympic Committee wants to know where the governor of Massachusetts stands on the Boston Olympics. His answer: Still crunching the numbers.
Gov. Charlie Baker refused to take a position on the city’s troubled bid for the 2024 Games on Friday, even after receiving a request from USOC leaders to let them know as soon as possible.
“I get the fact that everybody would love us to just sort of say ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ today, and I appreciate the fact that the timing in all of this is frustrating,” Baker said at a news conference, where he fielded several questions about Boston 2024.
A person familiar with the bid told The Associated Press the USOC had asked Baker for an answer by the end of the day Friday. That person asked for anonymity because the communications with the governor were confidential.
Asked about his contact with the USOC, Baker said the committee’s leaders had a meeting scheduled Monday, and “I’m planning to call them on Monday.”
“But my message to them is going to be the same as my message is to you: We hired (a consulting group) because we wanted their opinion and we wanted an expert opinion and a full-blown analysis,” Baker said.
The report from that group, The Brattle Group, isn’t expected until next month.
“This is a 10-year decision and I wouldn’t be doing the taxpayers ... or the city of Boston or the Olympics or anybody else any favors if we made this decision with anything less than the full report from the Brattle Group,” Baker said.
He said he would render his decision “pretty quickly” after receiving the report.
Will that be soon enough?
The deadline for the USOC to officially put forth a candidate is Sept. 15 and a key meeting of the International Olympic Committee is set for next week in Kuala Lumpur. If the USOC were to bail on the Boston bid, and try to replace it with another city — presumably Los Angeles — time is running short to make that move.
The bid has been beset by polling numbers in the 40s that have failed to move significantly upward, thanks in part to an active opposition concerned about how much taxpayer money might be spent on the games.
USOC Chairman Larry Probst has said he needs to see support grow sooner rather than later.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has already come out in favor of the Olympics. The USOC considers the governor’s support key to the effort, as well. A referendum is planned next year on the bid. If it doesn’t receive majority support both in Boston and across the state, bid leaders have said they would halt the process.
“We have always said that the success of this bid will require majority public support and the united backing of state and city political leadership,” USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said.
“We’re encouraged by recent discussions with Mayor Walsh and Governor Baker and look forward to continued, constructive dialogue.”