Is Opposing the Boston 2024 Olympics Unpatriotic?

Some supporters think so.

Promoters of Boston’s Olympic bid in 2024 lean on the idea that supporting the 2024 Games is a matter of pride. When we were competing with other U.S. cities for the the USOC selection, organizers billed support as a matter of civic duty. Do the skeptics want to see Los Angeles defeat Boston? Now that we are competing internationally, it’s a matter of patriotism. Bring the games back to America!

Today’s Globe has a great article by Jim O’Sullivan breaking down just how the Boston 2024 team was able to quell potential political opposition to the bid and arrest the momentum of citizens who oppose hosting the games. The article touches on the idea of “pride” as a tool:

In fashioning a campaign dominated by locals, the committee also hammered in another cornerstone: opposition to the Olympics is seen as a display of insufficient civic pride.

Even officials who worry that the Games might be a bad idea sometimes feel compelled, O’Sullivan reports, to keep quiet and be team players. It results in thinking like this:

One state lawmaker likened criticism of the Olympic plan to speaking in favor of an enemy nation during a time of war, saying it seemed “unpatriotic.”

So … yikes! While this might be a great method for suppressing opposition to the Boston 2024 bid, it doesn’t seem like such a great method for avoiding otherwise avoidable disasters. For that, you need an environment that encourages open debate. (Happily, political leaders have done more since securing the USOC’s selection to solicit input by hosting open forums, though they haven’t necessarily satisfied protesters.)

The metaphor of a “nation during a time of war,” is an interesting one. The idea that opposition to a war is akin to speaking in favor of an enemy is often used against anti-war protesters, who have long had to fight to prove that their opposition was a matter of patriotism, too. After all, there’s more than one reason to oppose an Olympic bid, just like there’s more than one reason to oppose a war. Sure, maybe you oppose the Boston Games because you secretly harbor allegiance to our sworn enemies in Rome or Istanbul.  But, more likely, you oppose them because you think it’s the wrong move for Boston. Casting that opposition as anything other than care for the city makes fairly little sense. And it sets up Boston’s bid on bad footing.