Boston gets flak from IOC

Withdrawn bid for 2024 Summer Olympics is another setback in the saga of pullouts

KUALA LUMPUR • The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has laid the blame squarely on Boston for its aborted attempt to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, saying the city had failed to deliver on its promises.

Boston was picked by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) to be the country's candidate for the 2024 Games.

But the USOC rescinded its bid in a spectacular U-turn on Monday after the city's mayor said taxpayers could not afford to host the event that was estimated to cost more than US$8.6 billion (S$11.7 billion).

The move was a blow to that campaign and came after four out of six cities withdrew from the 2022 Winter Games race, leaving China's Beijing and Kazakhstan's Almaty as the only bidders.

"What we could see in a nutshell, what happened there is that Boston did not deliver on promises they made to the USOC when they were selected," IOC president Thomas Bach told reporters in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

"Therefore we can understand the decision by USOC and we are looking forward to an American bid with another city," he said, adding that Boston did not appear to have a clear strategy.

Yet, there was no escaping talk of the cost of holding an Olympics when the spotlight shifted to the 2020 Games.

Tokyo 2020 Games chief Yoshiro Mori yesterday formally apologised to the IOC after plans for the new Olympic stadium were scrapped earlier this month over ballooning costs.

The 78-year-old, who presented a progress report to the IOC executive board, said the Olympic body had officially accepted Japan's review of stadium plans and offered its support as organisers now face a race against time to get it ready for the Games.

Costs for the New National Stadium, set to be the centrepiece of the Olympics in Tokyo, soared to US$2.1 billion, nearly twice the original estimates, sparking widespread outrage that prompted Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to decide nearly two weeks ago to abandon the initial design.

Construction costs in Japan have "gone through the roof", Bach said.

"It wasn't an easy decision of the Japanese government, but we respect and can understand that in such times you would not like to build the most expensive stadium in the world," the IOC chief told a press conference.

He said the Tokyo organisers had made US$1.7 billion in savings to the Games' budget in the seven months since the IOC passed measures to cut the cost of staging the Olympics.

"And with the stadium decision I am pretty sure we will go beyond the US$2 billion mark," he added.

Japanese organisers estimate that they will now spend about US$2.8 billion on new venues - compared to US$18 billion for the 2012 London Games.

The IOC will monitor the development of a new stadium to make sure it remains state of the art.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 30, 2015, with the headline 'Boston gets flak from IOC'. Print Edition | Subscribe