When the U.S. decided to bid for the 2024 Olympics, many experts felt an American city would be an early front-runner in the global race. Now, it's uncertain whether the bid will even make it to a final vote.

International Olympic Committee members are watching with a mixture of surprise and puzzlement as Boston, reeling from a lack of public support, struggles to keep its bid afloat.

For the moment, the future of the bid hinges on a statewide referendum in November 2016 - a move that leaves the candidacy in limbo until then and raises the possibility of the city dropping out midway through the campaign.

"It's a calculated risk," longtime IOC member Dick Pound of Canada told The Associated Press. "It means you're going ahead, making all these plans and carrying all these expenses without knowing whether somebody's going to suddenly pull the plug on you."

Speculation is the plug could be pulled sooner, although the U.S. Olympic Committee denied a report in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal that it may drop the bid if local support does not improve soon.

"We believe that Boston can and should lead America's bid to host the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and we are absolutely committed to our partnership with Boston 2024 and their innovative concept for hosting the games," USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said. "Any suggestion that we are considering alternatives is simply not true."