In an impassioned case for pursuing the 2024 Olympics, the head of Boston 2024 Wednesday said he would welcome independent experts hired by city and state governments to continually review the committee’s books and its plans to mitigate risks to taxpayers.
In a speech at the Northeastern University CEO Breakfast Forum at The Four Seasons Hotel, John Fish got a warm chuckle from the crowd of about 200 when he admitted, “We have learned a lot over the past 10 weeks” — a reference to tough media coverage of the bid and falling public support for the endeavor.
Fish invited financial specialists hired by the city and the state to “live in” Boston 2024’s books.
“Let them issue a report every quarter,” Fish said.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh, in a statement from his office, said he had been discussing in recent weeks a plan to establish “an office of Olympic accountability at City Hall,” and “is pleased that John Fish is on board.”
A local Olympic opposition group, No Boston Olympics, praised the mayor’s plan on Wednesday.
“Strong public oversight of Boston 2024 is the type of structure for which No Boston Olympics has been calling since our inception,” the group said in a statement. “It is important that this new office take an independent view on the bid, distinct from a coordinating role that the [Boston Redevelopment Authority] is already playing.”
The group said questions remain about how a new office would be funded and what authority it would have, but “No Boston Olympics appreciated getting the chance to share our perspective on the need for accountability with the mayor, and applaud his willingness to take steps in this direction.”
Not sounding like a man about to step away from the committee, Fish dropped a bit of news in his speech by hinting that Boston 2024 will roll out changes to its evolving sports venue plans that relocate beach volleyball from Boston Common. The proposal to hold the popular event on the Common has met with public resistance.
In a short meeting with reporters after the speech, Fish said that “we’re hoping people will give us the opportunity” to develop the bid and address financial concerns.
Boston 2024 has called for a referendum on the bid next year.
The International Olympic Committee will choose the host of the 2024 Games in 2017.
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