The US Olympic Committee board picked Boston as America’s official bid city for the 2024 summer Olympics and Paralympics, hoping to bring the games back to the US for the first time since 2002 in Salt Lake City.
Boston beat out two-time Olympic host Los Angeles, international capital Washington, DC, and tech and style hub, San Francisco. Officials from those cities had congregated at Denver International Airport to compete for the slot.
Boston’s appeal was its ability to lean on its obvious assets: the top universities, medical centers, and strong sports traditions like its championship teams and the Boston Marathon. Its $4.5 billion proposal (paywall) envisions a walkable, bike-able, sustainable Games that uses mostly pre-existing structures.
The US hasn’t hosted a summer Olympics since Atlanta in 1996. It lost Olympic bids for 2012 when New York lost to London, and again for the 2016 games, when Chicago was no match for the beaches of Rio.
But the USOC’s decision was about more than weather and top-notch venues. It asked the competing cities to keep the costs down and use existing venues.
Bringing a big sporting event like the summer games to Boston could boost its tourism numbers by giving it international visibility, and bringing improved infrastructure. (There’s little evidence that the Games generate any net or lasting economic benefits for the host cities, though—and the cost overruns for hosting them can be massive.)
The four contending US cities were in the top 10 most-visited cities in 2013, according to the latest data provided by the US Department of Commerce National Travel and Tourism Office. Boston, the winner, was the least-visited city of the four, with 1,282,000 visitors in 2013.
Representatives from those cities made their final presentations to the board in December. The US bid will now be considered by the IOC, but the final choice for the Olympics location won’t likely be announced before the summer 2017. Other potential bidders include Rome; Nairobi, Kenya; Casablanca, Morocco; Johannesburg and Durban, South Africa; Doha, Qatar; Melbourne, Australia; Paris; Hamburg, Germany; and St. Petersburg, Russia.