With the vote coming up on whether to withdraw Oslo’s 2022 Olympic bid — because, really, who among us is not transfixed by the Norwegian legislative calendar? — I take a look today for Vice Sports at why cities keep bidding on the Games, despite overwhelming evidence that they are a multi-billion-dollar money suck. Because while a bunch of cities have pulled out of the 2022 bidding for holy-crap-that’s-a-lot-of-money reasons (Krakow, Stockholm, Munich), and some have already done likewise for the 2024 Summer Games (Philadelphia, New York), there are still a ton of cities still eagerly in the running, even if “running” doesn’t necessarily describe their efforts at this early date in the 2024 bid process:
In the U.S. alone, we have Los Angeles, whose bid revolves around rehabbing the 82-year-old L.A. Coliseum into a “state-of-the-art” facility; San Francisco, which has a glowing recommendation letter from Mayor Ed Lee and little else in actual specifics; Boston, which is trying to sell the IOC on a “New England Olympics” with events stretching as far as Maine; and Washington, D.C., the only bid that includes an initial price tag — $4 to 6 billion—and whose website offers a helpful graphic that lists “things you didn’t know about the capital region.” (Sample: “175 embassies.” I think I could have guessed that one.)
(And yes, that $4-6 billion would probably include a stadium that would probably end up hosting Washington’s football team when it was all over. Also, would probably end up being more like $7-10 billion, given past performance.)
There does appear to be a mild trend toward pushback among cities, which shouldn’t be surprising after the last Olympics cost an estimated $50 billion. The problem is, there are a hell of a lot of cities in the world that think they can host the Olympics — especially the summer version, which doesn’t even require a particular climate — and only one winner chosen every two years. With that big a discrepancy between supply and demand, the IOC can demand a hell of a lot of velodromes.