Anti-Olympics Group Plans Protest at Forum About Boston’s Bid for 2024 Games
A “coalition of concerned citizens” upset with how the city and state have handled the bid process for Boston to host the 2024 Olympic games are planning to protest the measure outside of a forum next week.
On a Facebook page called “Rally: No Olympics in Boston,” organizers are encouraging those who are against having the summer Olympics in the area to congregate outside of the Institute of Contemporary Art on December 8, when the Boston Globe will moderate a panel discussion about the recent news that a private group handed over the official paperwork to put the city in the running as a contender for the large-scale sporting event.
“An elite, private group calling themselves Boston2024 just officially submitted a bid to the [United States Olympic Committee] asking to hold the Olympics in Boston for the year 2024,” the group said in their plea to rally protesters outside of the forum. “Despite promises otherwise, Boston2024 has not held a single public meeting or hearing. All decisions regarding the future of our city have been made behind closed doors.”
The group believes there has been a lack of transparency on the overall process, which included a behind-the-scenes meeting last month between city officials and those spearheading the push to make Boston a frontrunner.
On Monday, Boston2024, the private organization that worked to prepare a preliminary proposal in favor of bringing the games to the city, submitted their bid to the USOC. Boston is up against Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. If Boston is selected by the USOC, a decision that’s expected by January, a second bid will have to be put together and sent to the International Olympics Committee, the group in charge of picking between cities around the world that want to welcome the games to their country.
The Globe’s discussion next week will include people both on the side of bringing the Olympics to Boston, and those, like “No Boston Olympics,” who strongly oppose it. The organizers behind the Facebook group hope to have as many supporters that fall within the latter group at the doors on the day of the event.
“The people organizing Monday’s protest have a right to be heard. We appreciate them adding their voices to the growing chorus of citizens, from across the political spectrum, who have deep concerns about what hosting an Olympic Games would cost in terms of tax dollars, waste, and diverted public resources,” said members of “No Boston Olympics,” a separate group from those organizing the December 8 event. “Boston2024 has been around for more than a year, and just this week submitted its bid to the United States Olympic Committee—but in all that time has not held one single public meeting. The multi-billion dollar promises made in those bid documents were developed behind closed doors, without public input. It’s no wonder that people are frustrated. The citizens of Massachusetts deserve better.”
The group behind the Facebook page also created a website called “Boston Against Olympic Bid,” and sent a letter to the USOC expressing their concerns about the lack of dialogue, and reasons the committee should steer clear of Massachusetts as a host to the games.
Read the letter, in its entirety, below:
Dear USOC Board of Directors:
We are residents from all 23 diverse neighborhoods of Boston. We are united in opposition to Boston 2024’s bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympic Games. Boston 2024 has held no open meetings to discuss its plans in any of our neighborhoods, nor has the organization sought, or obtained, any formal approval from local government. We have asked repeatedly to be included in this process, but Boston 2024 has ignored us. We’ve considered all the different courses of actions we might take. We chose to write to you before we pursue other ways of making our voices heard.
The Boston 2024 Executive Organizing Committee pledged to construct its bid using “due diligence in an open, honest, and transparent manner.” A spokesperson for Mayor Marty Walsh stated that his administration would be “committed to gaining a full understanding of the impacts hosting the Summer Olympics would have on the City of Boston.” Given these promises, and considering that one of the IOC’s criteria for selecting host cities is “government support, legal issues and public opinion,” it is absurd that Boston 2024 has denied public input into their Boston 2024 Olympics proposal.
Boston 2024 bidders behave as if the concerns of the people of Boston are of no import in light of their sensational 10-year, multi-billion dollar Olympics extravaganza. Here are some of our concerns:
Macro Economic Impact
- Once Boston signs an agreement to host, we will be responsible for the financial obligations for any shortage of private funds.
- Boston has a thriving tourism industry grounded in American history. There is no data demonstrating any long-term gain in tourism money for cities who host the Olympics. We do not want to transfer existing income to an Olympic attraction, nor do we want to mar our historic landscape.
Micro Economic Impact
- We do not accept the displacement of our residents. Hosting cities have used the Olympics as an excuse to “clean up” neighborhoods. We reject this thinly-veiled gentrification. We are committed to longer-term solutions to economic deprivation and do not want our most vulnerable citizens simply swept away.
- Residents most likely to have their daily lives impacted by construction, event production and ongoing use of the Olympic venues are those least likely to be able to afford to attend Olympic events. Economic studies show there is little to no economic benefit to cities for hosting Olympics. These residents would never see any benefits of hosting an Olympics. It is an injustice to ask one group of people to pay these kinds of costs for the entertainment of others.
- With dignitaries from around the globe converging at an Olympics, a perceived need for more security is triggered. We don’t want Boston to become militarized, with increased surveillance and the looming presence of more armed officers in our streets, particularly in our communities of color.
- Boston is unable to maintain our existing transportation infrastructure. Our transportation authority has the highest debt of any in the country. Adding unnecessary facilities to Boston’s ongoing maintenance obligations is irresponsible.
- Increased traffic is another concern. Boston is not a planned city. We struggle daily with horrible traffic. Adding multiple construction projects will only compound this problem for the next ten years, and traffic during the three-week event will be a nightmare.
- We believe members of Boston 2024 stand to profit from their closed door dealings. They should not be rewarded for their secretive process and refusal to engage Boston’s concerns.
Boston 2024 is headed by John Fish, owner of Boston’s largest private construction company. He recently criticized everyday Bostonians’ opposition to the Olympics bid by asking, “Who are they and what currency do they have?” Boston 2024 echoes the infamous group “The Vault,” a committee of elite business executives who met in a bank vault in the 1930s to plot a city future of their private design. The better question is, as Boston Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham wrote: ”If the USOC picks Boston, we will be well along the road to hosting an Olympics – a vast, complex, and incredibly costly undertaking – without ever having had a meaningful public conversation about it. How nuts is that?”
From the Boston Tea Party to recent protests of thousands in solidarity with activists in Ferguson, MO, Boston’s culture is steeped in a rich history of civil disobedience. Boston 2024 has not listened or responded to the people of our city, leaving it up to you to clean up their mess. No city should suffer this degradation. The US is the standard bearer for democracy. If you choose Boston to host the 2024 Olympic Games, you leave us with no choice but to show the world what democracy looks like.
Citizens Opposed to the Boston 2024 Bid