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Patrick tapped to help lobby IOC for Boston’s Olympic bid

Deval Patrick will take on the role of global ambassador, helping to sell the city to the International Olympic Committee.
Deval Patrick will take on the role of global ambassador, helping to sell the city to the International Olympic Committee.(David L. Ryan/Globe Staff)

Former governor Deval Patrick has stepped up his involvement in Boston’s bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics, taking on a new role as a global ambassador who will sell the city to the International Olympic Committee.

“I’ve been asked to help Boston 2024 in pitching Boston and the Commonwealth to the members of the IOC as a site for the Olympics,” Patrick said in a statement on Friday.

The former governor will be paid, but aides would not reveal information about his salary.

He will join a bevy of former aides from his days as governor who are working at Boston 2024, the private group promoting the city’s bid.

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Serving as an international salesman for the Boston Olympics could be a natural fit for the 58-year-old former governor. A persuasive speaker, he frequently traveled overseas during his two terms in office, schmoozing business executives in more than a dozen countries, from Israel to Colombia to Japan.

At Boston 2024, he will take on a similar mission, lobbying the IOC, which is based in Lausanne, Switzerland, and whose 102 members include European royalty, captains of industry, and former Olympians.

Patrick will have to abide by IOC rules, adopted after the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic bidding scandal, which forbid local bid organizers to ply IOC members with gifts or flying around the world to woo them.

The rules will, however, allow Patrick to hobnob with IOC members at world and continental championships, such as this summer’s Pan American Games in Toronto, and at IOC events, such as the committee’s world session this summer in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Patrick has long been supportive of the bid and, last month, was among those who flew to United States Olympic Committee headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo. to welcome the visiting IOC president, Thomas Bach, according to AroundTheRings.com, a website that covers the Olympic movement.

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Patrick will hardly be out of place at Boston 2024.

The group’s chief executive, Richard A. Davey, was the Democrat’s transportation secretary. Nikko Mendoza, who was Patrick’s director of operations, is vice president for engagement and external affairs.

William “Mo” Cowan, a Patrick chief of staff who was appointed by the governor to a brief term in the US Senate, is cochair of Boston 2024’s government and community outreach committee.

Juliette Kayyem, who was Patrick’s secretary of homeland security, is cochair of the group’s innovation and technology committee.

Deval Patrick joins a Boston 2024 team that includes Juliette Kayyem, who was his secretary of homeland security, and Richard Davey, who was his transportation secretary.
Deval Patrick joins a Boston 2024 team that includes Juliette Kayyem, who was his secretary of homeland security, and Richard Davey, who was his transportation secretary.(Globe Staff)

And Boston 2024’s communications and strategy are being shaped by Patrick’s closest political advisors, including Doug Rubin, a former Patrick chief of staff, John Walsh, Patrick’s former campaign manager, and Kyle Sullivan, a onetime spokesman in the governor’s office.

The former governor himself made a low-key appearance at a community meeting about the Olympics at Franklin Park in Dorchester on Thursday evening, sitting in the back and not speaking, according to the Dorchester Reporter.

“I attended the community meeting last night to get my own sense of the strength of the presentation and the sentiments of people in the neighborhood,” Patrick said in his statement Friday. “I hope to attend others as an observer.”

The process of wooing IOC members has historically been marked by graft and excess.

Atlanta officials, when bidding for the 1996 Summer Olympics, compiled information files on each member and put together a personalized gift program that included antique surgical instruments and a bulldog, the mascot of the University of Georgia.

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Backers of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City showered IOC members with free trips, tuition payments, jobs for relatives, free medical care, shopping sprees, and gifts including exercise machines, limited-edition Browning pistols, and a replica of a British World War II Spitfire airplane.

After an uproar, 10 IOC members were forced out or resigned for allegedly taking lavish gifts from organizers, and the IOC adopted new rules that banned gift-giving to members.

The Salt Lake Games, meanwhile, hired Mitt Romney to serve as chief executive and restore confidence in the city’s bid.

Romney has been active in the Boston bid, as well, working largely behind the scenes by talking up the effort among prominent business executives who could provide financial support.

Since leaving office in January, Patrick has been serving as a visiting fellow at MIT. He is also scheduled to deliver the commencement addresses at Harvard and Morehouse College.


Michael Levenson
can be reached at mlevenson@globe.com.
Follow him on Twitter @mlevenson.