Just when it seemed promising that Americans could enjoy an Olympics not being aired at 2:00 in the morning, such chances were dashed today–dashed when Boston mayor Marty Walsh announced that he would not “commit to putting the taxpayers at risk” to cover the expensive costs of bidding for and hosting the 2024 Olympic Games. Walsh’s press conference occurred a few hours before sources inside the US Olympic Committee confirmed that a Boston 2024 is no longer likely, and therefore there’s little optimism that a post-2016 Olympics will be held in the Americas any time soon.
There’s more to the story, though, than a City and its mayor acknowledging the financial limitations of such a mammoth effort. The USOC was requiring Boston to sign an Olympic host city contract before it would allow the city to move forward with an official bid. The major detail in this contract would make taxpayers responsible for any “Olympic cost overruns.” When appearing at the press conference, Walsh went on to say, “I refuse to mortgage the future of the city away.
I’m disappointed to learn that a Boston Olympics isn’t in our near future. However, I also respect to leaders such as Mayor Walsh and others who have put the financial needs of their constituents ahead of any quest for the honor and glory of being an Olympic host city. Toronto made this decision a few years ago, and Boston has now done the same. Granted, hosting the Olympics could bring in millions of dollars in revenue for a host city and create thousands of jobs. But these jobs would mostly be temporary, which means that any revenue earned by Boston and Massachusetts would pale in comparison to the costs for massive infrastructure overhaul (venue construction, roadway repair, upgrades to public transportation) and the manpower required for public safety and emergency response.
I was a big supporter of Boston 2024, and I’m very frustrated to learn of today’s news. Yet my frustration and disappointment can’t be directed at Mayor Walsh and other officials who made this joint decision. I’m frustrated at the USOC and other Olympic officials for not finding new ways to cover the cost of hosting and Olympic Games. I don’t want to see the Olympic Games stay alive through large sponsorships. Can you imagine watching the 2024 Coca-Cola Olympic Games? The 2020 JP Morgan Chase Winter Olympics? It’s a horrifying thought. And yet the IOC continues to add more sports and events, driving up the cost of hosting the Olympics and making such an effort all the more daunting.
I don’t have the answer, but something’s got to give. Otherwise, the Olympics will remain a major sporting event in which everyone wants to compete, but no one wants to host.
Faster, Higher, Stronger.