THERE ARE plenty of reasons for a city like Boston to shudder at the idea of hosting a summer Olympics. The games are often not worth the investment; they’re a short-lived festival that can become a long-term headache. But that calculation is starting to change, led in no small measure by the United States Olympic Committee, which hasn’t won a bid to host the summer games since 1996 in Atlanta. Now, instead of seeking a glitzy venue like New York or Los Angeles, the USOC is actively courting somewhat smaller cities who have historically opted out of the process, whether because of a lack of money or a deficit of glitzy showmanship. Boston may not do bling, but that may no longer matter.
On Tuesday, the USOC sent letters to the mayors of 35 cities, including Boston, to determine their interest in hosting the 2024 summer games. That sounds like a long time off, but it’s the next summer games looking for a home. Rio de Janeiro has the 2016 games locked up, and the finalists for 2020 are already chosen. No American city so much as bid for 2020. That’s partly a function of the financial crash that came just at the time that bidding began, but also of the poor track record of American cities seeking the games: New York lost to London for 2012, and Chicago to Rio in 2016. While Salt Lake City held the torch in 2002, winter games do not garner as much media attention, public participation, or money as their warmer counterparts.