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Olympic Sized Problem

By Sara Wailgum

Just like many other Bostonians, when I first heard that our great city would be the United States Olympic Committee’s bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, I was overjoyed. I couldn’t think of a reason why Boston shouldn’t host the games. We’re a city full of life, competitiveness, and strength.
After researching the question, I realized there are many aspects and problems in the proposal concerning Boston hosting summer games. Transportation, infrastructure, and increased tourism could become huge problems for the city if Boston were chosen. While I may have thought it would be a blessing for the city, I soon came to the conclusion that it is not Boston’s time to host the world’s greatest sporting event.
After multiple snowstorms slammed Massachusetts this winter, with Boston hit the hardest, we quickly faced the challenges and failures of an aging transportation system. Although the train systems originated in the 19th century, our modern-day MBTA rail service is over 50 years old and is in desperate need of very expensive renovations. Based on the problems the transit system has faced in the last few months, would Boston be able to fix the system by 2024? More important, would we have the time and the money even to begin considering such construction? Most likely not.
In addition, the city does not have the proper infrastructure to host such a mega-event. Boston does not have an Olympic stadium, and if the city were to be chosen to host the games, one would have to be built. Not only is building such a venue incredibly expensive, but the city may not have a use for such a costly space once the Olympics are over. Is it really worth it to invest so much money in a venue that is not going to be used for more than three weeks?
Currently, the estimated budget for Boston 2024 is set at $4.5 billion. While the initial budget for London’s summer games was $4 billion, the final cost totaled nearly $20 billion. When Beijing hosted the games in 2008, the total costs were almost $40 billion. While the initial plan does not call for taxpayers’ money, it is only logical to think of what may happen if costs go over budget. Where will that additional money come from? Many Massachusetts citizens are concerned that money for the Olympics may come out of their own pockets.
While Boston’s hosting the Summer Olympics may sound incredibly exciting, the dilemmas are more serious than many realize. Even though there are nine years between now and 2024, drastic, time-consuming, and costly changes are needed. The city is up against expected contenders such as Berlin, Rome, Morocco, and Melbourne; it looks as if only time will tell who is faced with the opportunity – and the challenges – of hosting the 2024 Olympics.

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