Boston Olympic bid withdrawal top priority at IOC Session

Boston Olympic bid withdrawal top priority at IOC Session
By Hugo Lowell
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The dropped Boston bid was top of the agenda as the International Olympic Committee began their session in Malaysia on Tuesday, where a host for the 2022 Winter Olympics would be decided.

Only two cities, the Kazakh city of Almaty and the Chinese capital Beijing, remain in the race for the 2022 Games after four other candidates withdrew earlier in the bidding process.

“The key issue is to deliver a great Games for athletes, and that means having (a bid) which offers great conditions in the sport facilities but also to have a project which addresses the issues of Olympic Agenda 2020,” said IOC President Thomas Bach in a press conference.

“That means to have sustainable and feasible Olympic Games,” he said of contenders Almaty and Beijing.

Having already hosted a successful Olympics in 2008, Beijing was long considered as the frontrunner. But Almaty’s bid, which included the promise of real snow and a compact Games plan, impressed the IOC members who will select a host in a couple days time.

Yet it was the U.S. Olympic Committee’s decision to rescind the fledgling Boston bid for the 2024 Olympics that was the the top issue at the IOC session, the high-profile withdrawal serving as an unpleasant reminder of how much work is left to be done to once more make the Olympics attractive to cities.

The announcement by the USOC came barely hours after Boston Mayor Marty Walsh refused to commit to a bid, if it could leave the city’s taxpayers vulnerable to footing the eventual bill.

“Boston is a great city,” Mayor Walsh had said. “We don’t need the Olympics to plan the future of Boston, but the conversation of the Olympics has helped us look at things differently.”

“No benefit is so great that it is worth handing over the financial future of our city.”

Meanwhile, the IOC also used the opening day as an opportunity to review the preparations for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, both of which have suffered delays in venue construction.

It is understood that Pyeongchang 2018 is finally back on track following disputes between local officials, as is their struggle to find sponsors to finance the Games.

However Tokyo, despite securing numerous corporate partners early on, have been forced to literally return to the drawing board after Japanese organisers scrapped the design for a new national stadium which had nearly doubled in cost.

Construction on the new national stadium was due to start in October and finish in time for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, but the latest setbacks have pushed the completion date to spring 2020.

The 128th IOC Session will run from July 28 to August 3 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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