Boston’s troubled bid for the 2024 Olympics took another ding Monday when a key U.S. Olympic leader suggested the city was no sure thing to remain the American candidate to bid for the Games.
U.S. Olympic Committee board member Angela Ruggiero was the first in the federation’s leadership group to suggest anything other than the USOC’s unwavering support. Her comments came during a Q&A that followed her prepared remarks at a Boston City Council meeting devoted to the bid.
She said the USOC is working hard to make sure Boston succeeds in its attempt to bid for the Games. But in a nod to the always-fluid nature of Olympic politics, she said the federation was still vetting Boston to make sure it was the right city to bid, and that there was no guarantee.
The USOC chose Boston as its candidate city in January but doesn’t have to make that selection official until the International Olympic Committee’s deadline of Sept. 15. Ruggiero did not immediately return a telephone message left by The Associated Press.
The comment from the four-time Olympian, former Harvard hockey player and IOC member came as the city deals with a leadership team that hasn’t found its footing along with polls that show fewer than half the city’s residents are in favor of hosting the Summer Games.
In a statement he has previously issued twice this month, USOC CEO Scott Blackmun reiterated the federation’s support for the Boston bid and said there was no truth to rumors and reports that the USOC is considering other options.
“Boston can deliver a great Games,” Blackmun said.
But the IOC’s Sept. 15 deadline has left plenty of room for speculation that the USOC could pull the plug on Boston and sit out the race or choose a new candidate, such as Los Angeles.
Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., were the finalists in a domestic race that lasted about two years.
Rome and Hamburg, Germany, are already in the international race, with other cities expected to join. The 2024 Olympics will be awarded in 2017.
City Council president Bill Linehan, the chairman of the committee considering the 2024 Olympics, said he took Ruggiero’s message not as a threat but as encouragement for the city to get to work on the bid.
“It was in the context: ‘These things change,’” Linehan said. “I thought it was interesting, but on the front end, she talked about Boston being the city.”