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  • Critics Write Anti-Olympics Manifesto -- ATRadio


    (ATR) In July 2015 Boston Mayor Marty Walsh called a press conference saying he would not sign the IOC Host City contract unless there were guarantees that Massachusetts citizens would not foot cost overruns to the 2024 Games. He also said opposition to the Boston 2024 bid was “10 people on Twitter.” It was not.

    The iconic No Boston Olympics logo
    No Boston Olympics co-chair Chris Dempsey and sports economist Andrew Zimbalist’s new book “No Boston Olympics: How and Why Smart Cities are Passing on the Torch,” shows the behind-the-scenes story of the grassroots effort that sunk the Boston 2024 bid. This was a dedicated campaign aimed at raising the discourse surrounding the bid, ultimately changing the minds of city leadership chasing an Olympic dream and windfall. The book lays out the entire journey chronologically drawing from history and primary sources of Boston-area journalists following the story.

    Sometimes, the benefit of hindsight can be the greatest lesson for a journalist. The movement against Boston 2024 certainly had a loyal social media following, as was evident in my Twitter mentions at the time. The difference was, this was a coordinated group of individuals working to hold bid leadership and the United States Olympic Committee accountable.

    This website focused mostly on the lack of public support through poll results, and the updated bid venue plan. We went to Boston just once, for the bid launch, and didn’t talk to enough people on the ground to get proper perspective. With time, I now realize I would have approached covering the Olympic bid in a much different manner.

    The USOC and the city of Boston pulled the plug on the bid right as I moved down to Rio de Janeiro to cover the last year of preparations for those Games. The lessons and successes of No Boston Olympics influenced my coverage down there, as I made it a point to talk to those most affected by the Olympics, the citizens of the host cities. I’ve followed the story as referendums continue to be mechanisms for citizens to debate the merit of the Games in an open forum.

    Chris Dempsey told Around the Rings in an interview the book is a “case-study” of citizen action. He’s right, and it would be wise for those in the Olympic Movement to read the book and listen to its authors. To date neither Dempsey nor Zimbalist were approached by the IOC for constructive discussion, even though the IOC continues to tout its Agenda 2020 reforms aimed at making Olympic bidding easier. No Boston Olympics was the model that citizens in Hamburg, Germany and Budapest, Hungary used to engage in debates that led to referendums on both 2024 bids. Hamburg’s bid was defeated by the ballots of the citizens, and political leadership pulled the Budapest bid before a debate could be had. It was the campaign for the former referendum that led to the writing of this book.

    Thankfully both Dempsey and Zimbalist were available to take ATR’s questions about the book and their shared experiences. That interview can be found below:

    Written by Aaron Bauer

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