In yet another reminder that the Olympics and democracy don’t fit very well together, voters in Hamburg have just rejected the idea that their city should volunteer to host the games.
Residents of the German city of Hamburg have voted against hosting the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Hamburg was one of five cities left in the running, alongside Rome, Paris, Budapest and Los Angeles. But 51.6% of residents of the city voted no in a referendum on Sunday. The No camp argued that money earmarked for the Olympics could be better spent.
German Olympics officials had picked Hamburg as their preferred candidate city ahead of Berlin. Germany has not hosted the Games since 1972 in Munich. Voters there turned down the chance to host the 2022 Winter Olympics two years ago…
This follows the belated but correct decision by the US Olympic Committee to abandon the bid by some Bostonians to volunteer their city as hosts for this wretched event.
Hamburg isn’t the first to pull out of 2024. In July, the US Olympic Committee killed Boston’s bid barely six months after backing it. Apparently, resistance among residents was too great to overcome in the few months left and No Boston Olympics, a powerful opposition campaign, argued the economic benefits touted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) were overstated. The Games, they claimed, are simply too expensive. Boston’s bid estimated the cost of hosting 2024 at $4.5bn but No Boston Olympics argued it would be more like $10bn-$20bn. Considering the London 2012 Olympics was originally slated to cost £2.4bn and ended up being £8.92bn, their prediction seems about right.
The Guardian also notes the difficulties that the 2022 Winter Olympics have faced:
And so to the 2022 Winter Olympics, which saw so much rejection that Adele could get an album out of it. Last October, Oslo became the fourth city to withdraw its bid, following Stockholm, Lviv, and Krakow. Seventy per cent of Krakow, one of the original finalists, came out against the idea in a referendum. Ballooning costs were the main concern for all the cities, as well as unstable conditions (in Ukraine), scepticism about the benefits to the economy, and not enough local support. The 2022 Winter Olympics became known as the Games No one Wants to Host and – in response – the IOC relaxed its rules to make the bidding process less convoluted and expensive. How did it end? Every potential host city with a democratically elected government dropped out, leaving behind Beijing and Almaty in Kazakhstan. Beijing won, despite the problems outlined in the IOC’s evaluation of its bid, including that it doesn’t snow on the mountain that will host the downhill-skiing events.
The newspaper concludes:
Hamburg was the only one of the five 2024 Olympics bidders to hold a public vote. Perhaps we should consider how many contenders would be left in the race if the others, Paris, Los Angeles, Budapest and Rome, had done the same.
Indeed we should. The people of Los Angeles should insist on a vote and then should take the opportunity to say that, regardless of the (unusual) success of the previous LA Olympics, this increasingly revolting spectacle is not welcome in their city.
Pyongyang, on the other hand….