FOGEL: The case for Boston

We should back Boston’s bid for the 2024 Olympics, as it is about more than just the money

Last week Boston was selected to represent the United States in its bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics. While protesters claim the event would be an economic catastrophe, citing the high costs in London and Beijing, they disregard the benefits of the opportunity, including a chance for the United States to host for the first time since the boom of social media, modern technology and the Salt Lake City scandal of 2002.

The last time the United States hosted the Summer Olympics or Winter Olympics were in 1996 in Atlanta, Georgia and 2002 in Salt Lake City, UT respectively. Thus, the majority of University students were too young to remember either of these occasions. One of the most glaring concerns if Boston were to give up on achieving its bid for the Olympics is the possibility that it could be a long time before the United States gets to host an Olympics during our generation. With an increasingly globalized world, this could be one of the last chances for University students to see an American Olympics before they are senior citizens.

While it may appear that the United States would have no problem succeeding in a bid to host an Olympics beyond 2024, as it has hosted a record eight times, a U.S. bid has not succeeded since the Salt Lake City scandal of 2002, in which America paid officials to obtain International Olympic Committee (IOC) votes. The scandal sparked significant changes in the IOC, such as a ban on IOC members visiting potential host cities. Since 2002, the United States has failed twice to win the bid for the Olympics, with New York City in 2012 and Chicago in 2016. If Boston also fails in 2024 it will not look good for future prospects of hosting because there will have been no improvement from past years.

Because the United States last hosted in 2002, it has never been able to take full advantage of the television, social media and spectator resources while commercializing the games. From 2002 to 2012, television viewership for the Olympics went from 2.1 billion people to 3.6 billion. The number of viewers is only likely to increase by 2024. Additionally, the scope of coverage is steadily increasing; Atlanta in 1996 enjoyed 168 hours of coverage, while London had over 5,500 hours of coverage. These differences show how the television landscape has changed dramatically since the United States last hosted the Olympics.

Although not a perfect city, Boston has what it takes to make a compelling bid for an Olympic host city. Home to the biggest and oldest annual marathon in the world, Boston is arguably the best sports city in America and one of the best in the world. Although each city has its own unique tourist attractions, Boston is also home to the seventh-most popular tourist attraction in the world, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, as well as a variety of other historic attractions. Therefore, they are ready to take on the challenge of hosting the largest sporting event in the world.

Another major factor in Boston’s favor is the number of stadiums and sites that already exist in Boston. With over 100 universities and colleges in the greater Boston area, including Harvard, Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern and MIT, there are a multitude of stadiums and facilities present to contribute to Olympic events. This is especially important when considering Los Angeles’ success hosting in 1984 was owed to its ability to use already present stadiums and facilities.

The largest issues with the 2024 bid revolve around space, money and taxes. Boston will need to upgrade its transportation system in addition to creating a 60,000-person stadium for the opening ceremonies. This kind of spending may be tough for a city that experienced the Big Dig setback, in which the city of Boston funnelled billions of dollars into a failed highway and tunnel project in the 1990s and early 2000s. Yet, when spending doesn’t go overboard — as it did in Beijing — there can be positive results. For instance, even though the London games cost over three times their original budget, BBC claimed that around 69 percent of those polled in the United Kingdom believed hosting was worth the money.

The case for the 2024 Olympics is bigger than just Boston. The Olympics are a source of national pride and success. By hosting the 2024 Olympics, the United States would be able to commercialize the events to an extent that no nation has ever been able to historically. This encompasses everything from merchandise and tickets to television and publicity. Even if Boston doesn’t succeed at winning the bid to host, it is crucial Boston makes it to the second round of voting in order to prove the United States Olympic Committee has normalized relations with the IOC. Otherwise, it may be a long time before the United States hosts another Olympics. Even if they are not Boston fans, Americans and University students should back Boston for the pride of hosting another Summer Olympics and the opportunity to experience one they will remember.

Jared Fogel is an Opinion Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at j.fogel@cavalierdaily.com.

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