US delegation to visit IOC next week for talks on Boston bid
LONDON (AP) Boston and U.S. Olympic leaders will travel to Switzerland next week to sound out the IOC about their struggling candidacy for the 2024 Summer Games amid a leadership shake-up at the top of the bid.
The high-level American delegation will be at IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, next Wednesday and Thursday as part of the new ''invitation phase'' for Olympic bid cities, U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Patrick Sandusky said Friday.
The Boston delegation will be headed by Steve Pagliuca, the Boston Celtics co-owner who took over as bid leader on Thursday, replacing construction magnate John Fish. Among others scheduled to go to Lausanne are bid CEO Rich Davey, vice chairman Roger Crandall and chief operating officer Erin Murphy.
The U.S. Olympic Committee team will include chairman Larry Probst, CEO Scott Blackmun and chief bid officer Chris Sullivan. Board member Angela Ruggiero may also attend. She and Probst are also IOC members.
The U.S. officials will meet with an International Olympic Committee group headed by Christophe Dubi, the executive director for the Olympic Games.
The talks come amid continuing uncertainty over the future of the Boston bid, which has been dogged by local opposition, political wrangling and low public support ratings.
Ruggiero said at a hearing in Boston on Monday that the USOC was still vetting the bid and there was ''no guarantee'' the city would be put forward as the U.S. candidate. That fueled more speculation that Boston could be dumped in favor of Los Angeles - which hosted the Olympics in 1932 and 1984 - before the Sept. 15 deadline for submission of bids to the IOC.
The USOC has repeatedly reiterated support for Boston and said there was no truth to rumors and reports that it is considering other options.
The USOC chose Boston as its candidate city in January over Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington. The U.S., which mounted failed bids for the 2012 Olympics (New York) and 2016 (Chicago), hasn't hosted the Summer Games since 1996 in Atlanta.
Stung by polls showing support for their candidacy at below 50 percent, Boston officials have decided to put the bid to a statewide referendum in November 2016, halfway through the race.
Rome and Hamburg, Germany, are also declared bidders. Paris and Budapest, Hungary, are expected to enter the race soon. The IOC will select the host city in 2017.
German and Hungarian officials have already visited Lausanne for the invitation phase. French officials are due on June 3, and Italians the following month.
The invitation phase was introduced as part of IOC President Thomas Bach's ''Olympic Agenda 2020'' reform program approved in December. It's designed to bring more flexibility to the process and make bidding and hosting less expensive. The IOC is also encouraging the use of existing and temporary venues as much as possible.
AP Sports Writer Jimmy Golen in Boston contributed to this report.
Follow Stephen Wilson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/stevewilsonap