¶ … hosting the Olympics
Boston is under consideration as a possible Olympic site in 2024. Although the bid is still in its beginning stages, already an intense debate is emerging about the potential benefits this might yield for the city. Obviously, hosting the games is considered a great honor in the eyes of the world and many cities lobby to have this chance for years, spending huge amounts of time and money to persuade the Olympic Committee to give them a chance. But a number of differing viewpoints are at war within the city: some opposed to hosting the games altogether, others strong proponents, and still others suggesting that a 2026 winter rather than a summer bid might be better suited to Boston's climate and infrastructure. Regardless, despite the naysayers, the overall consensus is that Boston should make a bid, even though whether the summer or the winter bid is more suitable remains a point of intense debate.
Regardless of whether a winter or summer bid is preferred, hosting an Olympics requires a major investment in infrastructure for a city; no matter how well-developed it might be in terms of its current construction. The need to invest in such infrastructure can actually be a boon for the city. "Major sporting events usually require upgrades to transport and communication links. This investment leaves a lasting legacy for the whole economy. Better transport links reduce congestion and help to improve efficiency for local business" long after the Olympics have left (Pettinger 2009). Creating an Olympic village and better venues for sports competitions and recreation can increase the desirability of a city overall. Investing in infrastructure as well as hotels and other venues can be a great source of job growth.
But some argue that the needed investment in Boston's cityscape would be too onerous. Boston's famously heavy traffic, spawned by an old city that was originally not designed to be car-friendly, could create nightmares of congestion for commuters. Boston also has a large university population which is still present year 'round and dealing with the traffic patterns caused by students is another headache. It is argued that Boston has enough problems and rather than trying to solve the necessary logistical puzzles demanded by an Olympics, it is better to focus on how to make much-needed improvements in the city design that can alleviate the chronic and specific problems needed to facilitate the current demands of commerce.
Naysayers say that the gains from an Olympics, economically speaking, are relatively temporary. Once the venues are built, the jobs will begin to abate. Although hosting the Olympics is an undeniable boost in terms of tourism in terms of restaurant, hotel, and retail traffic, critics contend that this will not necessarily translate into long-term growth and can actually be problematic: government and businesses make an investment which then does not translate into permanent improvement in terms of the city's economy. China spent $42 billion dollars to enable its city to host the Olympics and while "China experienced an influx of revenue in the years leading to the Olympics, yet 30% of the country's population was still living under the international poverty line, and an estimated 30 million people did not have daily access to food. Think about all the good $42 billion could do, if it were put towards rural area food programs or job creation" (Cloherty 2014). The same could be argued regarding the investment Boston would have to make in constructing venues for the Olympics -- it could be better spent on city-specific initiatives.
But proponents of the Olympics suggest that Boston will benefit in the long-term from tourism. Sometimes Boston is seen as an 'also-ran' in terms of foreign tourism, given...
Hosting the Olympics will be a way to showcase the city for foreign visitors which will draw foreign media and perhaps spur interest amongst the friends and family back home of the initially Olympic-specific visitors. Even before the Olympics, there is the hope that the attention of the international media will generate positive press for Boston, something the city surely needs after the negative publicity it garnered in the wake of the terrorist attacks during the Boston Marathon.
Proponents of the Olympics note that Boston, because of the Marathon, is not unfamiliar with hosting large sporting events. Although every major metropolitan city hosts a marathon, the Boston Marathon is one of the largest and most well-known, second only to New York. Also, unlike New York, Boston runners must qualify for the race by achieving a certain, specific time which means the race tends to attract people from all over the world who are highly competitive and wish to participate in an 'elite' marathon. As well as the Marathon, Boston is a devoted sports-oriented city and has a fanatical fan base for all of its local team: people come from all over to see the Red Sox, Patriots, and Bruins play at home.
Still, when it comes to the Olympics, all publicity is not necessarily good publicity, as was seen in the case of the Sochi Olympics. The city must ensure that the improvements which are generated for the Olympics are well-run and well-constructed. Organizing massive efforts has been challenging for Boston in the past, as was the case with the infamous 'Big Dig,' a project which famously spiraled over-budget and out-of-control. Furthermore, a city must also factor into the lost revenue for some businesses whose enterprise is not directly connected to the Olympic effort. Businesses that mainly cater to local interests might see their revenue stream hurt, rather than helped by the selection of Boston. According to one opponent of the proposal, "Boston being a really good place to live in, and work, we think this is a really bad idea. We want to shift the conversation back to important issues like addressing inner city violence, health care costs, and job growth -- the really, truly important issues. The Olympics are a real distraction from what will make Boston and Massachusetts a great place to live over the next two decades" (Annear 2014).
However, not all Bostonians necessarily feel this way. Since Boston is long famous as a sports-crazy city, its people may be more willing to support certain inconveniences because of the honor it might bring to the city. The Olympics is the epitome of sports achievement. Having the goodwill of the everyday, ordinary people who must suffer the inevitable delays and challenges presented by the Olympics is important and the people of Boston have had to frequently cope with this already, thanks to events connected with their major sports teams as well as the Boston Marathon.
Still, even if Boston is selected as a host city, it is still debatable if the summer Olympics would be the most suitable, given Boston's climate. One advocate notes "I think we are just better suited [for the winter games]. If you think about the complaints you have heard, people say Boston isn't big enough for the summer games. But if you look at other Olympic hosts for the winter games, we would be the largest city to host" (Annear 2014). The winter Olympics would require Boston to pool its resources with neighboring areas to provide adequate scope for the sledding and skiing events. "Hosting the winter games would require working with other states like Vermont or New Hampshire to make use of their resources for certain sporting events" (Annear 2012). This could take some of the pressure off of Boston in terms of the cost and the challenges it would face in terms of managing traffic. The Boston Globe wrote in an editorial: "Hosting the Olympics would raise Boston's profile and connect the surrounding region with the world. And the Winter Olympics are more manageable than their summer counterpart. There were fewer than 100 events in Sochi, compared with around 300 for the summer games in London in 2012 -- which means fewer athletes to house and fewer logistical woes" (Winter Olympics in Boston, 2014, The Boston Globe).
However, for some, this is a clear detriment. "It's hard enough to control a budget in your own state, but when you are working with other states it starts to get really complicated. It's not like you can start busing hundreds of people back and forth, or build a rail line from here to New Hampshire. To me, the winter seems a little more like a fantasy" (Annear 2014). Furthermore, none of the available venues even within the general New England area compare with the size of the mountains in Denver or other western states, which many argue would be a far more amenable venue for the winter games.
As well as Boston, there is a great deal of competition amongst other American cities in the bid for the 2024 summer games. "Besides Boston, Los Angeles, Dallas, Philadelphia, and San Francisco have all expressed interest in hosting the games in 2024, and while the U.S.…
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