olympic sports

Break up the Olympics!

The U.S. Olympic Committee may soon select a bid city for the 2024 Olympics, picking from a pool that includes Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

The correct answer is … all of them. Why not?

That’s the direction the Olympics are going, and with good reason. The IOC’s new Agenda 2020 adds some flexibility for multiple cities to bid together.

And on a related note: Agenda 2020 is big on containing costs by asking cities something very simple — quit building big, expensive stuff that won’t have much use after the Closing Ceremony. Don’t build entire mountain cities or coastal villages that may or may not be used after the Games. Looking your way, Sochi.

The other cost-containment measures make a little less sense. Cutting the 200 meters, 10,000 meters and shot put so local organizers can add something they like?

IOC reformists want to avoid white elephants, using existing infrastructure wherever possible. Boston comes close, using a lot of university facilities. And yet Boston has some powerful opposition. San Francisco got a Dave Zirin smackdown. D.C. has a few existing facilities but doesn’t seem to address whether the new D.C. United stadium, likely to be approved this week, could host something. Maybe rugby? Maybe archery? That’d be fun.

It’s not as if every Olympic event can be held in one place, anyway. They can’t hold sailing and canoe/kayak events on the Potomac. The 2008 equestrian events were held in Hong Kong, which is near Beijing in the sense that they’re on the same continent. Soccer games are held all over the host country.

The 2018 Games might be split. The feasibility of a sliding track in Pyeongchang is suddenly an issue, though maybe things sped up a bit when the idea of moving those events to Nagano came up. (Hey, it worked for the 2002 World Cup, right?)

There’s no question the Olympic movement is suffering after Sochi, even though a lot of the money went to construction and goodness knows what else. Frankly, some of the trouble is perception. The media fanned out through Sochi a few months later to find no one there, but everything looked fine when Formula One raced there in October.

The USA is losing a bit of Olympic spirit as well. Colleges are worried about keeping nonrevenue sports afloat. And it’s been a while since we hosted.

So imagine the possibilities:

– Sailing in San Francisco, just like the 2013 America’s Cup.

– Could we get a track back in the Los Angeles Coliseum?

– Add baseball back to the program and hold it in Fenway Park.

– An Opening Ceremony in a new national stadium on the site of RFK Stadium, which is still standing. Last time I checked. Has anyone stopped by to make sure it’s still there?

The Olympics need bold new thinking. Olympic cities can’t keep up with building new facilities for every event. (Yay, golf in Rio!)

So why pick one when all four can host?

Categories: olympic sports

1 reply »

  1. I like the idea and the reason behind it is solid, but do you think the process can survive the back-biting process that will result in a fight for the “big” sports?

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