Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is strongly defending the city's 2024 Olympic bid, saying that win or lose the pursuit of the games represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and would not leave taxpayers to shoulder a massive bill.

Walsh acknowledges that debate over the bid has generated "more heat than light" and that many people believe it will distract from more pressing needs.

But he disputes critics' assertion that the Olympics could be a drain on taxpayers and says other American cities, including Los Angeles and Atlanta, have successfully used private funding to bankroll the games they have hosted.

The United States Olympic Committee selected Boston in January over three other cities as the U.S. bidder for the 2024 Games. The International Committee is expected to choose a host city in 2017.