The U.S. Olympic Committee chose Boston to bid for the 2024 Games in an attempt to bring the Summer Olympics to America after a 28-year gap.
During a daylong meeting at the Denver airport, USOC board members chose Boston over Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, all of which have been lobbying to become the American choice for more than a year.
Boston joins Rome as the only other city that has officially decided to bid. Germany will submit either Hamburg or Berlin, with France and Hungary among those also considering bids. The International Olympic Committee will award the Games in 2017.
"We're excited about our plans to submit a bid for the 2024 Games and feel we have an incredibly strong partner in Boston that will work with us to present a compelling bid," USOC Chairman Larry Probst said in a statement.
"It is an exceptional honor for Boston to be chosen as the U.S.representative in the running for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games," Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said in a statement.
"This selection is in recognition of our city's talent, diversity and global leadership," Walsh said. "Our goal is to host an Olympic and Paralympic Games that are innovative, walkable and hospitable to all. Boston hopes to welcome the world's greatest athletes to one of the world's great cities."
America's last two attempts to land the Games resulted in embarrassments — fourth-place finishes for New York (2012) and Chicago (2016).
The White House congratulated Boston on its nomination Thursday night. "The city has taught all of us what it means to be Boston Strong," it said. "We hope to welcome athletes from around the globe to compete in Boston in 2024."
The selection of one of the country's most history-steeped cities comes as something of a surprise to insiders, who viewed Los Angeles as the safest choice and San Francisco as the sexiest. But a compact bid highlighted by a frugal spending plan overshadowed doubts that surfaced because of the city's organized protest group and less-than-perfect history in delivering big projects like the Big Dig.
Boston's bid backers have touted plans to host a lean, economically manageable Olympics relying heavily on the more than 100 area universities to house events and athletes.
They have promised that a Boston Olympics would be the most walkable, most public transit-reliant Olympics ever, saying up to 70 percent of venues would be temporary and that schools would pay for many, too.
“Every U.S. games has been cash-flow positive. We're budgeting to be able to do the same thing,” Boston's bid committee president Dan O'Connell told NECN on Thursday, hours before his city's bid got the USOC's backing.
"Today's selection by the USOC is the beginning of an incredible opportunity for Boston," said Boston 2024 Chairman John Fish.
And the opposition group, No Boston Olympics, was equally quick with its own statement: "The boosters behind Boston2024 won today — but our Commonwealth is poorer for it."
Liam Kerr, an education advocate who co-chairs the group, told NECN earlier Thursday that he thinks public opinion will turn even more clearly against the bid, as independent-minded Massachusetts residents rally around other priorities.
"People would much rather make other investments than the Olympics," he said. "We don't think that will change, no matter how much they market it."