As I pointed out in an earlier article, there is potential for the 2024 Olympics to provide a substantial economic boost to the region.
The City Council will vote on a resolution to give the mayor power to enter a binding contract with the USOC. The contract would also make us responsible for any cost overruns.
I could accept such a condition if the organizing committee has broad powers to decide on the construction, renovation or repurposing of facilities. I accept the fact that the cost of security, traffic control and crowd management will be high, but the prospects of record-breaking revenues are high too, owing to a new TV contract after the current one expires as of the conclusion of the 2020 Games, and the likely mega-influx of Asian tourists – particularly from Olympic powerhouse China. But the cost of new venues could make or break the finances.
So, before the Council authorizes the mayor to proceed, there must be strict limitations, perhaps defined as a cap, on infrastructure costs. Our current major facilities are good enough for professional sports and Division 1 NCAA contests, so there is no reason to spend on big ticket improvements. We need to ask if an Olympic village is even necessary, as opposed to dispersing teams to college dormitories or hotel complexes, the latter approach becoming more popular for nations with elite programs.
It is also critical for the Council to consider the impact the games will have on general infrastructure projects throughout the city. It would not be wise to have the DWP tearing up streets to replace water mains in the months leading up to the competition.
It gets down to drawing a line in the sand with the IOC and USOC, organizations who have proven themselves incapable of exercising or encouraging financial common sense, and who, because they are playing with other people’s money, bear little risk if a city goes bust.
If our terms are deemed as too restrictive, too bad. In time, more and more cities will push back and the ruling Olympic poobahs will finally get the message that the world has had enough.
Of course, they could always rely on nations run by authoritarian regimes to cough up sums they cannot afford.
How would Tehran and Pyongyang appeal to the public as future regular destinations? Maybe we can leverage them by having some nuclear weapons inspectors pose as athletes. Our team mascot could be a geiger counter.