I just read an NY Times article titled, In Boston Olympic Bid Vote, More at Stake than Games. I have a lot of feelings about this article, this topic, and the debate in general.
The article seems to delve into bizarre and (at least to me) secondary, if not tertiary issues related to Boston’s bid. If the USOC lost the Boston bid to a referendum due in November 2015, it would :
- Lead to reductions in television rights fees and corporate sponsorships–the US market is a key supporter of the games
- Undermine considerable efforts to overhaul a dysfunctional American Olympic committee and repair a once-tattered relationship with the IOC
Those aren’t even in my top 3,000 reasons I do not want the games held in Boston. Perhaps the strangest part of the article is this:
Mr. Davey said one of his goals was to show that the bid organizers are listening to [resident] concerns and that someday residents will feel they own the Olympics the way they own the Boston Marathon.
“No one has suggested that we should cancel the Boston Marathon in two weeks, which has three times as many athletes and as many spectators on the highest day of the Olympics,” Mr. Davey said.
“That’s because the city owns the Marathon,” he said. “Where we need to get to, and this is where the public process comes into play, is that the city of Boston needs to own this, not a small group of individuals, and we’re beginning that now.”
Okay, first, the Boston Marathon was established in 1897, it is the longest-running Marathon in the world. Second, the city does own the Marathon, it is an important civic event that brings people from across the Globe to our little city to watch a road race and enjoy the triumph of spring over winter. The entire 23-mile stretch is shut down, it is, in fact, a city-wide holiday in Boston-proper–Patriot’s Day–which commemorates the beginning of the American Revolution.
Second, while the Marathon “has three times as many athletes and as many spectators on the highest day of the Olympics” the Marathon lasts the length of a long weekend–the Olympics lasts three weeks. It’s fun to have the city bursting at the seams for a few days, it would get tiresome quickly, however.
The passing acknowledgement of the resident concerns, specifically the opacity of the process, grave issues with the city’s public transportation system, and the lack of public engagement appear to be written off as obstacles that must be overcome rather than as fatal or even legitimate flaws.
The Olympics is a fantastic sporting event, but from a planning perspective it constitutes a catastrophic tornado that destroys cities–both physically and financially–leaving them with hulking infrastructure that can not possibly be effectively reutilized or maintained.
I am part of a growing number of people who would like to see two permanent sites for the games: one for summer and one for winter. This would allow a local industry to grow up around the games and provide world-class training facilities to athletes whose nations cannot support the cost.
I do not support the Boston 2024 bid, and I hope the residents of the City voice their concerns loudly this November.