Boston cheered for winning first heat in Olympic race

(Reuters) - Congratulations poured in to Boston from politicians, athletes and rival bidders on Thursday after the U.S. Olympic Committee put forward New England's largest city as its candidate to host the 2024 Summer Olympics.

But not everyone was cheering for a Boston victory as opposition to the bid made sure they will be heard from going forward.

Boston was the surprise choice to be the American bid city over two-time host Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington. {ID:nL3N0UN5JI]

"I want to congratulate the city of Boston and hope the Games will be back on American soil in 2024,” offered Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, gracious in defeat.

In San Francisco the mood was equally glum but Mayor Edwin M. Lee was less willing to hide his bitter disappointment.

“We are disappointed to learn that we were not chosen by the USOC," said Lee. "We congratulate Boston, which is a great city and would make a fantastic host.

"While San Francisco would have been an excellent choice, we look forward to supporting the USOC’s efforts to bring the Olympic and Paralympic Games back to the U.S. in 2024.”

The United States has not hosted a Summer Games since the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and after stunning rebukes to New York to stage the 2012 Olympics and Chicago's failed bid for the 2016 Games the White House was also quick to throw support behind Boston.

"The President and First Lady extend their congratulations to the City of Boston on its nomination by the United States Olympic Committee," said the White House in a statement. "The city has taught all of us what it means to be Boston Strong."

Having come out on top in what is essentially an Olympic preliminary heat, Boston will now lineup against some of world's biggest cities in a race to claim one of sport's biggest prizes.

"It is an exceptional honour for Boston to be chosen as the U.S. representative in the running for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games," Boston Mayor Martin Walsh said in a statement. "Our goal is to host an Olympic and Paralympic Games that are innovative, walkable and hospitable to all."

Not all reaction was positive.

Christopher Dempsey, a co-chairman of the group No Boston Olympics, which formed to oppose the idea, said he worried that pursuing an Olympic bid would sideline city and state leaders from more important issues, like healthcare and the city's long-term transportation needs.

"As we look ahead for the next 10 years, we do not want to see the civic conversation devoted to stadiums and velodromes," Dempsey said in a phone interview. "The people of Massachusetts elect their leaders to focus on getting the basics right and to focus on the big issues that affect their lives day to day, and not to host glitzy events 10 years out."

(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York. Additional reporting by Scott Malone in Boston, Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina, Peter Cooney in Washington; Editing by Steve Keating.)

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