Boston mayor meets with group opposed to Olympics

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Boston Mayor Marty Walsh addresses the first public forum regarding the Boston 2024 Olympics bid in Boston, Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

BOSTON (AP) — Boston Mayor Marty Walsh met with the group No Boston Olympics on Friday night to discuss its concerns about bringing the 2024 Summer Games to the city.

Chris Dempsey, one of the group’s founders, told The Associated Press that the meeting was productive and friendly.

“We feel as if we have a lot of common ground with the mayor,” Dempsey said after the meeting that lasted more than an hour. “Things like protecting taxpayers, making sure the bid is something that works for the city and for neighborhoods, even improving the process and making it more transparent.”

The meeting came one day after the first of nine scheduled sessions to allow residents to have their say. Several hundred people crowded into a room at Suffolk Law School near the Boston Common on Thursday night, with most of them expressing doubts about the benefits of hosting an Olympics. The mayor repeated his promise that no taxpayer money would go to the operation of the games. But he made the case that being an Olympic city would give Boston a boost in tourism and international stature.

Dempsey said the mayor was receptive to opponents’ concerns.

“It was clear to us today that he was sympathetic to our perspective,” Dempsey said. “He is someone who thinks that a watchdog is important. We look forward to seeing how that develops.”

The USOC selected Boston as the American bid city last month over bids from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Rome is the only other announced bidder, but Boston could face competition from bids from France, Hungary, South Africa, Qatar and Azerbaijan for the right to host the 2024 Games.

The IOC will make its selection in 2017.

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