Boston mayor refuses to sign host contract for 2024 Olympics

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Boston Mayor Refuses to Commit to Olympic Bid If Taxpayers at Risk

Boston's mayor delivered a harsh blow to the city's effort to host the 2024 Olympics on Monday when he declared he wouldn't sign any document "that puts one dollar of taxpayer money on the line for one penny of overruns on the Olympics."

That document is the host city contract that most in the Olympics consider crucial to any city's success. Walsh made his announcement at a hastily called news conference that coincided with Gov. Charlie Baker's meeting with the U.S. Olympic Committee.

The USOC was pressing Baker for assurances that he would back the bid, but Baker said he couldn't do it until he saw a detailed report about the games from a consulting group. That report isn't expected until next month.

Olympic bids need strong support from key city leaders. The USOC board was meeting later Monday to discuss the future of the bid. Baker's recalcitrance, combined with an about-face from a previously supportive Walsh, gives the board an opening to pull the plug on Boston, where public support has lagged.

Walsh didn't say the bid was dead by his estimation, but he hinted of no plans to do what's being asked of him. The host city contract is often a difficult sticking point for U.S. candidates, because unlike other countries, the federal government doesn't back any Olympic efforts. It doesn't need to be signed until 2017, but the USOC is eager to have it delivered well before then.

Walsh said it won't happen until he knows the taxpayers won't have to foot the bill.

"If committing to signing the guarantee today is what's required to move forward, then Boston is no longer pursuing the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic games," he said.

The official deadline to nominate a city isn't until Sept. 15, but the USOC is looking for answers right away. That's in part because there still could be time to get Los Angeles on board, and because there's a key International Olympic Committee meeting taking place later this week in Malaysia, where the 2024 bid will be a hot topic. Leaders of the Boston bid were expected to attend.

They've been under pressure to shore up poll numbers that show public support in the 40 percent range.

Plans are being made for a voter referendum next year, and the bid leaders have promised if it doesn't win both in Boston and statewide, they would pull the bid.

See photos from events around Boston's bid:

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Boston mayor refuses to sign host contract for 2024 Olympics
BOSTON - MARCH 14: A grassroots team was promoting the city's bid for the 2024 Olympics in Boston at the Reggie Lewis Track And Athletic Center, where the third Annual Got Peace? basketball tournament was held. Signatures of support cover a banner on the table that people could sign. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Boston 2024 Partnership Chairman Steve Pagliuca, foreground left, and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, right, speak to reporters Thursday, June 18, 2015, in Boston, where it was announced that TD Garden would be the site of the Olympic and Paralympic basketball finals and Olympic gymnastics and trampoline if the city wins a bid to host the 2024 games. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
FILE - In this Feb. 5, 2015, file photo, people in the audience hold up placards against the Olympic Games coming to Boston, during the first public forum regarding the city's 2024 Olympic bid, in Boston. While Bostonians are hesitant to host the Olympics, Americans across the country overwhelmingly support the idea of the games on home turf, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll. The support decreases when people are asked if they would want the Olympics in their local area. It dips even further when they are asked if public funds should be used to pay for them. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)
BOSTON - FEBRUARY 5: John Fish walks away from the podium after addressing the audience during an Olympic and Paralympic Bid Community Meeting at Suffolk Law School in Boston, Massachusetts February 5, 2015. (Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON - SEPTEMBER 29: A new 3D computer model which is being developed to help plan the city's bid for the 2024 Olympics shows a view of Boston with traffic in Boston, Massachusetts September 29, 2014. (Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Reporters view a video display of the sites of the potential Olympic stadium, athlete's villages and media centers during a news conference by organizers of Boston's campaign for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Boston, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015. The organizers released their "bid book," which will give new insight into the vision behind the Games proposal. Boston was picked by the USOC as its bid city for the 2024 Olympic Summer Games. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Boston 2024 Partnership Chief Operating Officer Erin Murphy, left to right, Chief Executive Office Rich Davey, Chairman and Boston Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca and architect David Manfredi listen to a reporter's question during a media availability after they released the updated plans for the Olympic and Paralympic games at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center Monday, June 29, 2015, in Boston. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
Boston 2024 Chairman and Boston Celtics Co-owner Steve Pagliuca walks off the dais at the conclusion of his presentation during the release of the Boston 2024 Partnership's updated plans for the Olympic and Paralympic games at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Monday, June 29, 2015, in Boston. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
Boston City Council President Bill Linehan, center, listens to a presentation from Boston’s 2024 concerning their Olympics bid during a special city council committee hearing in the city council chambers at City Hall Friday, June 26, 2015, in Boston. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
FILE - In this Jan. 21, 2015 file photo, shadows of organizers and reporters pass a video display screen prior to a news conference by organizers of Boston's campaign for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Boston. The city was selected in January by the United States Olympic Committee as the U.S. bid city for the games. But support has sagged in public opinion polls. Organizers of the bid have promised a statewide vote on whether to host the 2024 Summer Games, but unanswered questions remain about the referendum process. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)
Boston 2024's CEO Richard Davey answers a question during a special city council committee hearing on Boston's Olympic bid in the city council chambers at City Hall Friday, June 26, 2015, in Boston. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
FILE - In this Jan. 6, 2012 file photo, the Boston city skyline is illuminated at dusk as it reflects off the waters of Boston Harbor. The U.S. Olympic Committee picked Boston on Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015, as its bid city for the 2024 Summer Games. The city will be presented to the International Olympic Committee for a vote in 2017. Rome also is in the bidding, along with Hamburg or Berlin, Germany. France and Hungary also are considering bids. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)
FILE - In this Jan. 6, 2010, file photo, U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun responds to questions during a news conference at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. The leaders of the U.S. Olympic movement will soon choose one of three roads to take on their increasingly tumultuous path toward a bid for the 2024 Olympics. Stick with Boston, pull the plug or look elsewhere, probably to Los Angeles. (AP Photo/ Ed Andrieski, File)
FILE - In this March 6, 2015, file photo, John Fish, chairman of Boston 2024, answers a councilman's question, as Boston 2024's CEO Richard Davey, center, and chief architect David Manfredi, right, listen, during the first meeting of the City Council on the city's bid to be awarded the 2024 Summer Olympics at City Hall in Boston. The leaders of the U.S. Olympic movement will soon choose one of three roads to take on their increasingly tumultuous path toward a bid for the 2024 Olympics. Stick with Boston, pull the plug or look elsewhere, probably to Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia, File)
Dan O'Connell, the president of Boston 2024, gestures during a news conference by organizers of Boston's campaign for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Boston, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015. The organizers released their "bid book," which will give new insight into the vision behind the Games proposal. Boston was picked by the USOC as its bid city for the 2024 Olympic Summer Games. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Cheri Blauwet, co-chair of the Boston 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Movement Committee, gestures as she addresses reporters during a news conference by organizers of Boston's campaign for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Boston, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015. The organizers released their "bid book," which will give new insight into the vision behind the Games proposal. Boston was picked by the USOC as its bid city for the 2024 Olympic Summer Games. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
David Manfredi, co-chair of the Boston 2024 Master Planning Committee, addresses reporters during a news conference by organizers of Boston's campaign for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Boston, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015. The organizers released their "bid book," which will give new insight into the vision behind the Games proposal. Boston was picked by the USOC as its bid city for the 2024 Olympic Summer Games. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
A supporter of the Boston Olympic bid gives a tthumbs-up in front of a group opposed to the bid, during the first public forum regarding the city's 2024 Olympics bid, in Boston on Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015, (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
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