Yesterday the word came down that the United States Olympic committee withdrew it’s support for my home city’s bid for the 2024 Olympics. That would be Boston. The withdrawal came after a lack of public support for the bid, and the Mayor’s refusal to sign an Olympic “host city contract” that would commit the city and it’s taxpayers the final source for Olympic cost overruns. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing.
On the one hand I think we underestimate how exciting something like having the Olympic games in your city or state would really be.
On the other hand, having lived through the “Big Dig” I really didn’t want the city and the state to commit itself to financing the cost overruns through our tax dollars.
The truth of the matter is that the OIympics have gotten to large. Much too large. It’s not that they weren’t large before. Now they’re just ridiculously large. Consider this:
- In Rome in 1960 there were 5,338 athletes participating in 150 events in 17 sports.
- In Los Angeles in 1984 there were 6,829 athletes participating in 221 events in 21 sports.
- In London in 2012 there were 10,768 Athletes participating in 302 events in 26 sports
That’s just too many athletes, too many events, too many sports.
Why, for example, do they have soccer in the Olympics when we already have the World Cup and all kinds of separate FIFA tournaments for players under age 20 and under age 17?
A mid-size city like Boston just doesn’t have the size or the facilities to support an event this massive. And that keeps getting more massive all the time. In the end, it’s only the big cities that have already hosted the games — Los Angeles, Moscow, London, Paris, Tokyo, Beijing — that will be able to afford to host them again.