Sentiments are mixed after Boston was named as the city to make America’s bid for the 2024 Olympic Games. The United States Olympic Committee heard pitches from Los Angeles — which has hosted the event twice — San Francisco, and Washington D.C, but ultimately opted to throw its weight behind Boston.
Despite its global reputation as having a strong sports culture, Boston has never before hosted the Olympics. There is a great deal of financial support being pledged by local business, with leaders of industry and politics being drawn together by the bid. The Chief Executive of Suffolk Construction, John Fish, has so far led the bid, and explained to the Boston Globe why it is fitting to have Boston represent the U.S. hopes for hosting the Olympics.
“I would argue the world trusts Boston. The world sends its youth here. The world sends its sick to heal here in Boston, right? The world sends its greatest minds to innovate in Boston. So, why not invite the world’s greatest athletes to compete in Boston?”
President Obama has welcomed the choice, issuing congratulations to Boston through White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, as the Hill reports.
“The city has taught us all what it means to be Boston Strong. The President and First Lady couldn’t be prouder of this accomplishment and all of our nation’s athletes, and strongly support the effort to bring the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games to the United States. We hope to welcome athletes from around the globe to compete in Boston in 2024.”
While congratulatory messages have also been issued by USA Swimming and USA Gymnastics, not everyone is so enthused. Opponents of the bid have formed a group called No Boston Olympics, and cite state-wide issues as having greater importance. The group issued a statement in response to the announcement of the official Boston bid, as reported by the Boston Globe, highlighting the economy, education, and housing as requiring improvement.
“An Olympics accomplishes none of these things. In fact, it threatens to divert resources and attention away from these challenges – all for a chance to host an event that economists say does not leave local economies better off.”
The Boston bid utilises many of the city’s existing venues, including college facilities, but also suggests the construction of a temporary Olympic stadium at Widett Circle to the south of downtown, which would be the site of track and field events as well as the opening and closing ceremonies. Organizers have also attempted to allay public concern with the reassurance that the bulk of the proposed $4.5 billion budget would be found through corporate sponsorship, ticket sales, and broadcast fees. Use of public money will be restricted to infrastructure, as already planned. An insurance policy has also been signed to protect public finances from liabilities.
In terms of Olympic legacy — the lasting impact the event has upon host cities, as well as those entering the bidding process — there is no persuasive evidence to suggest that benefits are guaranteed. Analysis shows that while some cities, such as Barcelona and Cape Town, continue to enjoy their Olympic accomplishments, cities such as Athens and Beijing struggle to do so.
Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh switched positions on the bid during the planning process. Having initially opposed the idea, Mayor Walsh has welcomed the opportunity for his city, in a statement reported by the Boston Globe.
“This selection is in recognition of our city’s talent, diversity and global leadership. Our goal is to host an Olympic and Paralympic Games that are innovative, walkable, and hospitable to all.”
Organizers of the Boston bid now face the lengthy and detailed process of building on their planned competitive pitch before a winner is selected by the International Olympic Committee in 2017.
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