Boston calls for statewide referendum on Olympic bid
John Fish, chairman of Boston 2024, the group organizing the city’s Olympic bid, said Tuesday that the group will nor pursue an Olympic bid if city and state residents are opposed to it.
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The group has called for a statewide referendum on the Olympic bid, and wants the referendum on the ballot for November 2016.
Fish said he spoke with Boston mayor Martin Walsh and Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and that he has their approval for the referendum. He also said the United States Olympic Committee agreed with the idea.
“All we ask is an opportunity to have a constructive dialogue with everybody in the Commonwealth … of how these games, the Olympic and Paralympic games, can benefit our community,’’ Fish said.
He added that even if the referendum passes, the group will not go forward with the bid if residents are opposed.
In January, the United States Olympic Committee chose Boston as the U.S. city to bid on the 2024 Olympics. Boston was chosen over Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
A poll at the time found that 55 percent of Massachusetts residents supported the city’s bid, but support has been eroding ever since, falling to just 36 percent by March.
There has been outspoken opposition to the bid ever since it was announced; the group No Boston Olympics was formed and wrote a letter to the USOC saying that the hosting the Olympics would cost the state somewhere between $10 billion and $20 billion; money that they believe would be better spent elsewhere.
On the other hand, some have claimed that hosting the Olympics would bring in billions for the state in revenue.
A lot is riding on the opinions of the voters, who may not want the Olympics interfering with their lives in the city. Referendums have stopped Olympic bids before; according to the Los Angeles Times, Denver gave up their hosting rights for the 1976 Winter Games when Colorado voters voted against it in a referendum. Additionally, referendums in Munich and Krakow dissuaded both cities from bidding for the Winter Olympics in 2022. The Olympic bid is, essentially, in the hands of Boston residents.
The IOC will choose the 2024 Olympic host city in 2017.
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