BOSTON (Reuters) - Support for Boston's bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games rose slightly in April, but half of area residents still oppose the idea over concerns that it will prove too costly, according to a poll released on Thursday.


The poll found that 40 percent of Boston-area residents now support the bid to host the Summer Games, up from 36 percent who supported it in March, according to a WBUR/MassInc poll. A full 50 percent of area residents oppose the bid, though support is somewhat stronger within the city limits.


The U.S. Olympic Committee in January picked Boston as its candidate to host the 2024 Games, a surprise choice that passed over larger cities including Los Angeles and Washington. The pick ran into immediate opposition, and last month Olympics backers called for a 2016 statewide referendum on the idea, saying they would proceed with the bid without majority support.


The main concern of respondents to the latest poll was that city and state taxpayers would be left to foot the bill for the Olympics, with 68 percent of the 509 registered voters polled worried the event will "cost much more" than the current $9.5 billion projection. The poll, taken April 10 through 13, had a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.


Mayor Marty Walsh has repeatedly said that the Olympics could be funded entirely with private money and that taxpayers would not be left to foot the bill.

If Boston proceeds with its bid, it will go up against world capitals including Rome, Paris and Hamburg, Germany in seeking to host the Games. The International Olympic Committee is due to pick a host city in 2017.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Susan Heavey)