Opposition to Boston hosting the 2024 Olympics and Paralympics will fade away if the city is awarded the Games, London Mayor Boris Johnson predicted during a visit there today.
A vocal group protesting against Boston's bid has emerged since the city was chosen last month as the American candidate by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) but Johnson is confident that will not hamper their chances.
"As soon as, if and when Boston actually get the nod from the International Olympic Committee, I think there will be massive enthusiasm, of the kind that we saw in London," said Johnson.
Johnson, who was elected London's Mayor in 2008 and was a key figure during the Olympics and Paralympics, predicted that Boston's campaign will mirror that of when the city started the Big Dig, a mega-project that re-routed the chief highway through the heart of the city into a 3.5 mile tunnel.
The Big Dig was the most expensive highway project in the US and was plagued by escalating costs, scheduling overruns, leaks, design flaws, charges of poor execution and use of substandard materials and criminal arrests.
It is estimated that the project will ultimately cost Boston $22 billion (£14.5 billion/€19.5 billion) and will not be paid for until 2038.
"It will be like the Big Dig in this sense, that everybody will moan, everybody will complain, and everybody will be gloomy until just before it takes off, when suddenly everybody will be overcome by euphoria," Johnson told the Boston Herald.
"And they won't be able to imagine how they could have even considered not bidding for the Olympics.
"And then it will go swimmingly well."
But it will be worth it, Johnson predicted.
"Since we did the Games, London has moved from place number two or three or four or five to number one as the international tourist destination," Johnson told the Boston Herald.
"I wouldn't minimise the economic impact of doing something like this, and the reputational benefits.
"We've seen unparalleled international investment in London since the Games.
"It has been truly an amazing shot in the arm for the city, which is now leaping forward at a huge rate."
But Christopher Dempsey, co-chair of the No Boston Olympics opposition group, disputed much of what Johnson said during his visit, which took place during a heavy snowstorm.
"Boris wants to justify the $15 plus billion (£10 billio/€13 billion), most of it public money, spent on the London 2012 Games," Dempsey wrote in an e-mail to the Boston Globe.
"London's Olympic organisers went three times over their initial budget, yet economists have found no evidence of increased tourism, job growth, or foreign investment due to the Games.
"Boston's citizens have a proud history of standing up to elites in London telling them how to do things - we're not sure why Boris thinks this time will be any different."
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