The head of the local Olympic bid committee emerged Wednesday from meetings at the Swiss headquarters of the International Olympic Committee “heartened” by the IOC’s emphasis on reforms intended to help Olympic bid cities and hosts control costs.
“They are very serious about making the Games sustainable,” said Steve Pagliuca, the new chairman of the bid committee, Boston 2024, in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from Lausanne.
Pagliuca led a team of leaders from Boston 2024 this week for meetings with IOC staff members.
The IOC in December approved reforms, known as Agenda 2020, which it says will make the Games less expensive to stage. The reforms came after several cities bowed out of the race for the 2022 Winter Games, mostly due to concerns about costs.
As part of the new guidelines, the IOC promised to promote the “maximum use” of existing facilities and temporary sports venues to control costs and to reduce the chance a city would build costly white elephants that have no permanent use after the Olympics.
Initial plans for Boston’s bid for the 2024 Summer Games depend heavily on existing college sports facilities and temporary venues, including a 60,000-seat Olympic stadium that would be razed after the Games.
Pagliuca said the IOC appears to be “very flexible about venue sites – they would rather a site be cost-effective.”
The meetings were part of a new IOC “invitation phase,” intended to give potential applicants a chance to discuss the process of bidding for the Games and how “to deliver [Olympic Games] for the athletes which fit in with the city’s overall long-term planning,” Boston 2024 said in a statement. Pagliuca said the IOC is aware of Boston’s noisy debate over the Games.
Recent polling suggests that public support for a Boston bid may be below 50 percent statewide, though a majority would support a bid that prohibited tax money from being used to build or run the Games.
“That’s not unusual,” Pagliuca said, of the contentious debate. “London started out with a very noisy debate.” And then as more details about the 2012 plan became available, “London and the whole nation got behind it.”
Boston 2024 has promised to release an updated venue plan next month.
In addition to Pagliuca, the Boston 2024 team at the meetings included vice chairman Roger Crandall; chief executive Richard Davey; senior adviser and chief games officer Doug Arnot; chief marketing officer Christa Carone; general counsel Paige Scott Reed; and chief operating officer Erin Murphy Rafferty.
The USOC sent several representatives, including chairman and IOC member Larry Probst III.
John Fitzgerald, director of Olympic operations for the City of Boston Redevelopment Authority, attended on behalf of Mayor Martin J. Walsh, Boston 2024 said.
The IOC intends to choose the 2024 host in 2017. Rome, Hamburg, Paris, and Budapest may be among the competitors.