2024 Boston Olympic bid could be in jeopardy with voter referendum

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh speaks during a news conference on Jan. 9 after the New England city was selected by the U.S. Olympic Committee as its bid city for the 2024 Olympic Games.
(Winslow Townson / Associated Press)

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh said Tuesday that he would not oppose a public vote on the city’s 2024 Olympic bid, a referendum that could cost the city its bid status.

“I wouldn’t stand in the way,” Walsh told the Wall Street Journal, though through a statement released later he made it clear he was not in support of a referendum on the Olympics.

Such a move could been seen as a lack of public support and prompt the U.S. Olympic Committee to nominate another city. The USOC has until September to submit its bid city to the International Olympic Committee which will select a host city in 2017.


A poll of Boston-area residents released Tuesday showed 51% of those surveyed supported the Olympic bid, and 75% also would like to see a local vote. The survey, conducted by MassINC Polling Group for local radio station WBUR, contacted 507 registered voters.

Similar polls conducted in New York when it was being considered for a 2012 bid showed support of 67% and when Chicago was initially selected by the USOC for the 2016 bid, 64% of those contacted were in favor of the games.

In Rio de Janeiro, host of the 2016 Summer Games, a survey showed overwhelming support from 85% of respondents.

“[Walsh] looks forward to engaging in a robust community process and having a two-way conversation with all neighborhoods as we move forward,” Laura Oggeri, a spokeswoman for Mayor Walsh, said in a statement, according to the Associated Press. “Should the public decide to collect signatures for a referendum, that is a right of the people that the mayor fully supports.”

Boston was selected by the USOC over Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington to be the bid city for the 2024 Olympic Games earlier this month.

Follow Matt Wilhalme on Twitter @mattwilhalme