A bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics in Boston, which includes Franklin Park on the venue list, was submitted this week by a private committee that held no community meetings and never notified park advocates. Meanwhile, Jamaica Plain activists began organizing an anti-Olympics protest movement.
Boston 2024, the group backing a local Olympics, submitted its bid Dec. 1 to the U.S. Olympics Committee. Boston 2024 spokesperson Dave Wedge told the Gazette it is still early and JP will have a say.
“If Boston does move forward in this process, before any final decisions are made relative to venues, there will be a full and active community engagement,” Wedge said. “If the people of Jamaica Plain do not support a proposal for potential uses of Franklin Park after full community engagement, then we would not propose Franklin Park as an Olympic site.”
But critics—including a group called No Boston Olympics—have blasted Boston 2024’s secretive planning and lack of input on everything from costs to taxpayers to security impacts. JP activists held a Nov. 24 meeting at First Baptist Church to begin organizing against a Boston Olympics. It was the first community meeting of any kind about the Boston bid, and drew more than 50 attendees.
“The community response was exactly how one would expect it to be: outrage at all these decisions being made behind closed doors, and that it’s happening without our consent,” said JP resident Robin Jacks, one of the local protest organizers. “At the same time, people seem ready to work within a really short time frame, which is promising.”
Doug Rubin, a Boston 2024 marketing official, attended the meeting. “I think issues raised in there were legitimate. We’re glad to have the conversation,” he told the Gazette. And in response to an audience question, he said, “We are committed to having open community meetings” and would soon schedule them. In a press release late this week, Boston 2024 said it will form a “citizens advisory group,” though it remains unclear what its responsibilities and membership will be.
However, Rubin did not mention that the initial bid was being submitted within days, and the schedule of Boston 2024 meetings has yet to materialize. The bid has not been released to the public in written form.
“Despite having more than a year to prepare its bid, Boston 2024 has not held a single public meeting or provided other opportunities for meaningful public input,” the No Boston Olympics group announced this week in a newsletter. “The Commonwealth’s citizens and taxpayers have been entirely shut out of the process.”
Boston 2024 is mostly composed of representatives of major corporations and large colleges, including Suffolk Construction and Harvard University. It does have one JP resident among its subgroup of athlete members—Nicole Freedman, a former Olympic cyclist and current head of the City’s bicycle program. Freedman declined to comment to the Gazette.
The U.S. Olympic Committee early next year will decide whether to move forward with a bid from one of four U.S. cities: Boston; Los Angeles; San Francisco and Washington, D.C. If the USOC approves one of those bids, it will be forwarded to the International Olympic Committee and put into competition with cities in other countries. In 2017, the IOC will make the final decision on which city will host the Games.
Potential venues are among the factors considered in the bidding process. But a list of venues would only become final in later stages, when the IOC gets involved.
Boston 2024 and No Boston Olympics are slated to square off in a public discussion sponsored by the Boston Globe on Mon., Dec. 8 at the Institute of Contemporary Art on the Waterfront. JP’s anti-Olympics activists say they will stage a protest outside the event. They also have begun a letter-writing campaign to the USOC.
The Boston 2024 committee’s website is 2024boston.org and it is on Twitter at @Boston2024. No Boston Olympics has its website at nobostonolympics.org and its Twitter account at @NoBosOlympics. JP’s anti-Olympics activists have a website at bostonagainstolympics.bid and are on Twitter at @no_boston2024.