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With Boston out of 2024 Olympics race, an opening for Toronto?

Rebecca Blackwell/AP

Fireworks exploded from the CN Tower over downtown Toronto during the closing ceremonies of the Pan Am Games Sunday.

By and Globe Staff 

The bid to host the 2024 Olympics in Boston was dropped Monday, but there’s still a chance the Games will be held fairly close to home.

Toronto is mulling entering the global race for the 2024 Summer Games, as leaders there have closely watched Boston’s Olympics push falter.

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Canada’s largest city, about an eight-hour drive northwest of Boston, just hosted the Pan American Games that concluded Sunday, spending a record $2 billion on the two-week sporting event that left the city with several Olympic-grade venues already in place.

The head of the Canadian Olympic Committee, Marcel Aubut, announced Sunday he would push for Toronto to bid for the 2024 Games, while the city’s mayor, John Tory, said Thursday officials plan to make a decision soon about whether to submit a bid.

The president of the International Olympics Committee, Thomas Bach, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in an interview earlier this month, just before the Pan Am Games kicked off, that Toronto “could be a good candidate” for the 2024 Games.

And, Richard W. Pound, a member of both the Canadian Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee, told the Globe that he, too, believes Toronto would be a strong competitor globally for the 2024 Games.

Toronto’s recent hosting of the Pan Am Games could improve its chances against other cities vying for the 2024 Games, including Budapest, Hamburg, Paris, and Rome.

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Rio de Janeiro hosted the Pan Am Games in 2007 and was picked in 2009 to host the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Pound said there was only “tepid” support in Toronto to host the Pan Am Games, but those games “were carried off extraordinarily well,” boosting public support for an Olympics there.

“Everyone [in Toronto] ended up enjoying the Pan Ams,” he said.

Boston’s failed bid opens the door for the Canadian city.

Toronto has never hosted an Olympics before, but it has tried five times, including a bid for the 1996 games, which it lost to Atlanta, and for the 2008 event, which it lost to Beijing.

Canada has hosted the Games three times: the Summer Olympics in 1976 in Montreal; the Winter Games in 2010 in Vancouver; and the Winter Games in 1988 in Calgary.

Cities competing for the 2024 Games must make an official bid with the International Olympic Committee by Sept. 15.

Pound said he believes Toronto has plenty of time to formally enter the contest.

Tory, Toronto’s mayor, said in a statement to the Globe on Monday that he does not plan to further discuss a possible bid until after the Parapan American Games finish there on Aug. 15.

“Toronto is in the midst of hosting the largest sporting event in Canadian history,” said the statement from Tory, who declined an interview Monday. “Our city and the Mayor are committed to putting on a great Pan Am/Parapan Am Games and any discussion of a possible Olympic bid would take place after the close of these games.”

As support for Boston’s bid sputtered in the weeks before the bid was abandoned, one Toronto politician even suggested the city could help Boston play host to the Olympics.

Last month, Toronto City Councilor James Pasternak in an interview with the Toronto Sun suggested that Toronto could partner with Boston to help host the Olympics. Pasternak could have been Boston’s “junior partner,” making some of its sports venues available for early preliminary round competitions or to host cultural events.

However, officials from the Boston 2024 organizing group told BostInno last month that they “had not had discussions about hosting events outside the country.”

With Boston’s bid now over, Pasternak said he believes his proposal is far less likely, but did not throw out the idea altogether.

However, Pound said he does not think the idea of a binational Games would work well.

He said that, particularly from a logistical standpoint, headaches would arise from having participants and spectators “crossing the borders and dealing with checking visas and the security issues.”


Material from the Associated Press was used in this report Matt Rocheleau can be reached at matthew.rocheleau@globe.com
Follow him on Twitter @mrochele
Michael Levenson can be reached at mlevenson@globe.com
Follow him on Twitter @mlevenson.