Boston is in a good position to win its Olympic bid

No Summer Games in the U.S. since 1996 and failed bids by New York and Chicago could work in Boston's favor

By the time the 2024 Olympics come around, almost three decades will have passed since the U.S. last hosted the Summer Games.

And that could be good for Boston.

The Massachusetts capital — chosen Thursday as the sole American bidder for 2024 — could benefit from all that time away and from the failure of recent bids by New York and Chicago.

U.S. Olympic Committee officials have spent the past few years trying to improve global relations. They have become more active in the Olympic movement and, just as important, have agreed to a revenue-sharing deal that spreads more of the wealth from American broadcasters and sponsors.

"There was a fairly public dislike of the USOC position on certain things," said Dick Pound, a veteran International Olympic Committee member from Canada. "That has certainly improved."

Boston is already among the early favorites in an international field that includes numerous potential candidates.

The wild card might be South Africa. IOC members have historically sought to widen their scope by placing the Games in new parts of the world. The African continent has never hosted, so Johannesburg or Durban could prevail if officials submit a workable bid.

Among other possibilities:

•Rome has officially entered the race. The Italian economy would seem to preclude spending billions on the Olympics, but Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has promised an efficient proposal, telling the Associated Press: "We will be at the vanguard for all the spending controls."

•German officials plan to put forth either Berlin or Hamburg. It won't hurt that IOC President Thomas Bach is from that country, but voters have balked at footing the bill for past Games and recently voted down a proposal for 2022. National Olympic Committee Chairman Alfons Hormann told reporters: "We are confident that it will be a big opportunity for one of the cities."

•French President Francois Hollande wants Paris to bid, but the mayor isn't so sure. Anne Hidalgo worries that her city has fallen short in previous campaigns. She wants to be sure that a renewed effort will be well prepared and not too costly. The French Olympic Committee has said it will announce a decision this month.

•Istanbul could jump into the race. National officials were waiting for the IOC to enact its "Olympic Agenda 2020" reform package, which, among other things, seeks to make bidding and hosting the Games less expensive. A decision from Turkey could be made in the next month or so.

•Doha has been on a roll lately. Despite widespread concerns about holding events in the region's extreme heat, the Qatari capital has secured the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the 2019 world track-and-field championships, the latter of which is expected to shift to late September.

•Australia might put forth Melbourne, and officials in Baku, Azerbaijan, preparing to host the 2015 European Games, are already talking about a potential Olympic bid. That might be a stretch for an Eastern European capital with not much of an international sporting legacy.

david.wharton@latimes.com

Twitter: @LATimesWharton

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
65°