As the Boston 2024 Olympic bid remains a hot political and social topic, it’s making international headlines. Mayor Marty Walsh has told Boston reporters he’s not concerned about a statewide referendum, because cities in other countries will also be holding votes.
The list is still developing, but the other contenders to host the 2024 Summer Olympics are Rome, Italy and Hamburg, Germany. And they’re paying close attention to their competition.
The Pope has already blessed a group of Italian athletes, noting with a laugh, he might not be alive to see where the 2024 Games end up. But not everyone in Italy is rooting for the Olympics to come to their country.
“People here are very skeptical for the same reasons as always. We are a very corrupt country. People think that whoever’s going to be in charge might use the bid to take advantage, to pocket money," says Massimio Oriani, a reporter for La Gazzetta dello Sport, Europe’s biggest sports daily newspaper. He says Rome’s bid is not up to its residents. "There’s not been a vote, there’s not going to be one. The bid has been submitted officially so that’s about it.”
Oriani, who’s covered the Red Sox and Celtics, favors the Boston bid.
“I follow it closely. I’m very interested because I think it would be great for the city of Boston. The city’s probably the smallest that could get an Olympics I think since Helsinki in the 50s. Everything as close as possible would be a huge advantage.”
Oriani covered the Beijing and London Olympics, where skepticism was a natural part of the planning process.
“I still haven’t heard of a place that’s supposed to be hosting a big event where people are pro. They always see it as an annoyance. As long as it’s clear that it doesn’t come out of taxpayers pockets and everything is out in the open, how much it costs, I think you should be happy.”
But the process of totaling costs, and income from investors and broadcasting deals, is a long one. Anywhere. In Germany, Hamburg Olympic bid organizers are still drafting a budget.
“It’s going to cost about 2 billion euros just to build infrastructure.”
Salman Mitha is a sports reporter for Sport Eagle TV in Germany.
“Hamburg has been chosen to represent Germany in the Olympic bid. However, it is not official yet. There is still a referendum that has to be passed by the citizens of Hamburg," Mitha said. "Most of them back an Olympic bid but at the same time they want to know the costs.”
Mitha says that for Germany, hosting represents something deeper than sports and tourism. It's also a matter of reputation.
“Germany wants to change the Olympic history. Berlin 1936 was Hitler’s games and they want to change that. ’72, of course, with the Munich Massacre. So they want to change the history.”
But there’s no guarantee German voters will overcome their concerns about cost. That leaves three cities – Hamburg, Boston and Rome – with uphill battles. And there are just 10 months to go before bids are due to the International Olympic Committee.