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Walsh, athletes press for Boston Olympics in 2024

Mayor says games can reshape city

Mayor Marty Walsh spoke at an event to generate interest in a 2024 Olympics bid by Boston.
Mayor Marty Walsh spoke at an event to generate interest in a 2024 Olympics bid by Boston.Steven Senne/Associated Press

Declaring that “it would be Boston leading the United States,” Mayor Martin J. Walsh gathered with Olympians and Paralympians Monday night as the city continues its press to host the 2024 Summer Olympic Games.

“It’s an opportunity for us to plan what the future of Boston will look like,” Walsh said, noting that the Games would bring long-term benefits to the city’s infrastructure.

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The mayor was assisted by members of the Boston 2024 Partnership, which is working to bring the Games to the city, in the event at Blazing Paddles restaurant, within walking distance of Boston’s best-known sports facility, Fenway Park.

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Walsh also argued that hosting the Olympics would kick-start projects across the city by giving them a deadline.

In making his pitch Monday, Walsh said the city would establish a sustainable hosting plan that others could use to help bring down costs in the future. The mayor and Partnership also said Boston would bring awareness to issues such as global warming by focusing on them when developing facilities and transportation plans.

“Why not Boston?” asked Peter Roby, director of athletics and recreation at Northeastern University.

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Because the bid would include the summer Paralympics, many see the games as a chance to increase participation among athletes. Paralympics are games for athletes with physical impairments.

“It’s totally exciting to have such an international event here in Boston,” said Joe Walsh, former Paralympics cross-country skier. Walsh competed in the 1984 games. “It would change the number of opportunities for Paralympic athletes.”

To bolster the point, Joe Walsh invited four athletes to the event that he said could be in contention to compete at the 2024 Paralympics.

Katrina Gerhard, 17, was one of the invited athletes. Gerhard competes in wheelchair racing events for the Acton-Boxborough High School track team. She joined the team two years ago and hopes to take part in international competition in the future. “Sports means reaching your absolute potential,” Gerhard said.

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Former Olympians also viewed hosting the games as a way to help Boston’s economy.

Dan Walsh, 35, who rowed for the US Olympic team in 2004 and 2008, told the crowd of under 100 people Monday night that this was Boston’s chance to lead the nation and the country by example.

He cited Sydney and London as cities who had faced urban planning challenges.

“We have a really bright culture here in Boston,” Dan Walsh said. “If anybody has any questions they should just ask and be part of the discussion.”

Also on hand at the ceremony honoring the athletes was former Olympic figure skater Nancy Kerrigan and former US hockey player Mike Eruzione.

The Boston 2014 Partnership is a privately funded nonprofit formed last year to help bring the Olympics and Paralympics to Boston. The United States Olympic Committee is considering Boston, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco as potential hosts.

Governor Deval Patrick was scheduled to attend but could not because of a scheduling conflict.


Juan Cajigas can be reached at Juan.cajigasjimenez@
globe.com
. Follow him on Twitter at @Esteban_Cajigas.