Olympic reluctance in Boston

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Olympic reluctance in Boston

Adnan Syed / Online Editor

Adnan Syed / Online Editor

Adnan Syed / Online Editor

Adnan Syed / Online Editor

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On Jan 8, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) chose Boston over San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and two-time Olympics host Los Angeles to be the bid city for the 2024 Summer Olympics.

One of the reasons Boston was chosen was because “the bid leadership and the political leadership were on the same page,” according to Scott Blackmun, the Chief Executive of the USOC.

Despite the camaraderie between the bid team and the political leadership in Boston, it seems that the two will have a more difficult time convincing the average Bostonian to feel as enthusiastic about the bid. In a poll this past month, people in Suffolk County, where Boston is the county seat, were asked, “Do you want Boston to be the host city for the 2024 Summer Olympics?” 59 percent of respondents said no, while only 36 percent said yes. Bostonian dissent is being channeled into two non-binding referenda that would oppose Boston’s bid to host the Olympics in 2024.

Many Bostonians said they felt like an Olympic bid was being forced upon them without any input. At the very least, people of the city should be made aware of what changes to the city that the bid entails and the implications of a bid.

One necessary change is a revamping of the city’s subway system, often called “The T.” While such a plan had been announced before the Olympic bid, it is important that people in the area of massive redevelopment are made aware of the changes.

While discussing the importance of public awareness of the developments that come with an Olympic bid, we thought about all of the stories of past Olympics that have gone wrong. In Athens, part of the bid was constructing a new airport to handle the influx of travellers. What of the old one? It’s still there, over a decade later, unused and something of a blight to the city. In Beijing, hutongs – narrow streets lined by homes and businesses that were popular in older parts of the city – were destroyed without the homeowners’ prior knowledge. In Atlanta, public housing was destroyed to make room for the games. In a stroke of irony, Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park in the center of the city is now a spot where some of the city’s homeless now reside.

We also discussed the sustainability of the venues. Many of the cities that have hosted the Olympics now have stadiums being relatively unused.

Atlanta’s Olympic Park is another example of this; one of our editors commented on how ridiculous it was to have a relatively unused park in the center of the city.

We agreed that cities with greater existing infrastructure are far more capable of hosting the Olympics than cities that do not. However, one editor from Boston is worried that Boston will not be able to handle the influx of traffic or use the infrastructure sustainably afterwards.

Due to these concerns we thought of a few alternatives to the current bid process: hosting the games at the same city in a country that isn’t traditionally dominant in the Olympics and rotating between cities with existing infrastructure to handle the games. Nonetheless, we are still enthralled when a new city can win a bid, and if Boston were to win its 2024 bid – the winning site will be announced in 2017 – we would be similarly excited for the city. We only hope that future bidding process will continue to become more transparent and allow for more input from the members of the city community.

 

Adnan Syed / Online Editor

Adnan Syed / Online Editor