KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — With Boston no longer in contention, IOC President Thomas Bach urged U.S. Olympic leaders on Tuesday to pick "the most appropriate city" as a substitute candidate for the 2024 Games. Two-time Olympic host Los Angeles could fit the bill perfectly, according to several IOC board members.
The U.S. Olympic Committee severed ties with Boston on Monday, finally pulling the plug on a bid that had been hampered by dismal poll ratings, strong local opposition and months of political wrangling.
The USOC now has until Sept. 15 to submit a candidate to the International Olympic Committee and formally enter a race that already includes Paris; Rome; Hamburg, Germany; and Budapest, Hungary. Toronto and Baku, Azerbaijan, are also likely contenders.
The IOC has been consulting with potential bids, including Boston, as part of a new "invitation phase'" for interested cities. The IOC is eager to have a strong candidate from the U.S., which hasn't hosted a Summer Games since Atlanta in 1996.
"For the IOC this was always about an American bid put forward by the United States Olympic Committee,'" Bach said in a statement. "This invitation phase is also an opportunity to determine which city will eventually be chosen by an NOC. We are confident that USOC will choose the most appropriate city for a strong U.S. bid."
IOC officials had just learned of Boston's withdrawal as they gathered for an executive board meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The rest of the IOC membership will be arriving later for a general assembly highlighted by Friday's vote to determine the host city for the 2022 Winter Olympics, with Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan, as the two candidates.
"It's always a shame when a national Olympic committee selects a city and then is incapable or unable to bring it to the next stage of the contest," IOC vice president Craig Reedie told The Associated Press. "But I suppose after mature reflection and looking at what's happened, it might be a wise decision."
"Personally, I hope the United States do find another candidate and produce another applicant city for 2024," Reedie said.
Boston had been chosen by the USOC as its bid entry ahead of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington. But the USOC was left with little choice but to drop Boston after Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker declined to commit to the bid.
"It's not (only) bad for the U.S., but it's bad for everybody," IOC board member Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr. told the AP. "Boston was an extraordinary city, very attractive for the Olympic games, a very sporty town. I am very said to hear this."
But he said there was enough time for the USOC to change course.
"I don't think they need to save face," Samaranch said. "They presented what they thought was a great candidate. It's preseason. They have all the right to change the team and make their final adjustments."
After New York failed in a bid for the 2012 Olympics and Chicago lost in the first round of the vote for the 2016 Games, the USOC took steps to try to improve relations with the IOC. Two years ago, the two sides signed a new revenue-sharing agreement, ending a long-running dispute that had helped undermine previous U.S. bids.
The U.S. chances for 2024 had seemed strong, but the Boston debacle caught many by surprise.
"We were all excited when they (Boston) were announced, but it seems to have stumbled since," IOC vice president John Coates said. "But it's better to face up to these things early if you don't have full public support."
Los Angeles hosted the 1932 and 1984 Olympics and now seems poised to enter the 2024 contest. Los Angeles was the only city to bid for the 1984 Games at a time when the Olympics were torn by boycotts and financial problems. The success of those games helped revive the Olympic movement.
"They won't have to build temporary stadiums, which is expensive," Reedie said. "It could be the third-time lucky for LA; it was third-time lucky for London."
London is the only city which has hosted the OIympics three times. Paris, which staged the games in 1900 and 1924, is also aiming for a third Olympics.
Sergei Bubka, the Ukrainian pole vault great who sits on the IOC executive board, said it's important for a U.S. city to be in the running.
"Los Angeles has great history, lots of experience," he said. "Why not?"