BOSTON — The group behind Boston’s bid to play host to the 2024 Summer Olympics said Tuesday that it wants the residents of Massachusetts to decide whether the effort to bring the games to the city should go forward.
John Fish, chairman of Boston 2024, told a gathering of business leaders that the privately funded organization would help gather signatures to put a referendum on the November 2016 state ballot.
If the referendum were defeated, Fish promised that the group would end its bid and not submit a final proposal to the International Olympic Committee. He added if the Olympic effort were endorsed by voters statewide but rejected within the city of Boston, the organization would still pull the plug.
The IOC is expected to choose a host for the 2024 games in 2017. Boston, selected by the United States Olympic Committee as the U.S. bid city, is expected to face competition from several world cities, including Rome and Hamburg, Germany.
Boston 2024 would work prior to the referendum to construct the best possible bid before leaving it to voters to “make the final decision on whether we have achieved those goals,” said Fish, the chief executive of Suffolk Construction Co. , who spoke before the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.
Mayor Marty Walsh, a strong proponent of the Olympic bid, said that if the city is to be successful in pursuing the games it must have the backing of residents.
The USOC said it remained confident in Boston as America’s bid city.
“Great achievements are often preceded by great skepticism,” USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said in a statement.
Public skepticism appears to be reflected in recent polls, including one conducted for WBUR-FM that revealed only 36 percent support for the bid among the more than 500 Boston-area residents surveyed.
Critics have questioned claims by Boston 2024 that no state or city funds would be required to pay operating costs for the games. On Monday, Gov. Charlie Baker and legislative leaders announced plans to hire a consultant to advise them on the bid, specifically on whether state taxpayers would be on the hook for cost overruns.
The state’s top elections official said Tuesday the wording of the measure would be critical.
“It has to be a straightforward question,” Secretary of State William Galvin said. “If you want it, you vote yes, if you don’t want it, you vote no.”