Denver loses bid for 2030 Olympics and everyone in Colorado is relieved
It’s the party no one wants to host
The Olympic Games are the oldest and most revered sporting event in human history. They are a spectacular display of human athleticism, courage and sportsmanship. Dreams are met, emotions run high, competition burns fiercely, and the greatest and most indomitable aspects of the human spirit are brought to bear before the world, for all to see. Few events can bring as much honor and glory to a nation.
And nobody really wants to host them anymore.
Not surprisingly, either. The Olympic Games, be them winter or summer, are an exorbitant waste of both money and infrastructure. They are an insanely expensive ordeal, they stress the capacity of any city they end up in, and more often than not, in the US, the cost is passed along to the taxpayers — The People. And considering that no single Olympics has come in under budget since 1960, that’s an unnerving prospect.
Recently, Denver lost its reluctant bid for the 2030 Winter Olympic Games for exactly this reason. They did not want to shoulder the financial and environmental burden of hosting the 2030 Games even though Colorado has never hosted an Olympics.
Denver’s bid suggested that the games would be funded privately instead of publicly, and decentralized around the US. It was a progressive and intriguing attempt to avoid the construction impacts associated with building stadiums and villages. The Colorado games would have been hosted in multiple locations all at once across the nation, from New York to Salt Lake City, and would have utilized temporary venues and ski resorts all along Colorado's Front Range. They even suggested that the Olympic Village could be converted into affordable housing once the games were gone.
It was an unusual, albeit creative proposal.
And one that the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) apparently wasn’t too fond of. Especially when compared to Salt Lake City’s relatively straightforward and conventional plan: run the games for a reasonable $1.3 billion, pay for it with public money, and re-use venues throughout the city built for the 2002 Winter Games. (Never mind the multi-billion dollar issue of security, which they convininetly neglected to calculate in.)
“It was very clear to us when we were there, in what they presented, that Salt Lake City very much understands the practical realities of hosting a Games, but also wants and supports what they represent and are very proud to represent the United States in just that,” Sarah Hirshland, the CEO of the USOC, told the Denver Post.
On December 14th the USOC awarded Salt Lake City the 2030 Games. And just about everyone in Colorado sighed with relief when they did.
“Yay!!! And who said the media never reports good news?” One person commented on the Denver Posts’ article announcing the loss.
“The people of Colorado have never wanted, do NOT want now, and NEVER WILL want the Olympic games to be held here!!!!!! ” Wrote another.
“Denver Colorado has never lost anything to Salt Lake City Utah. Thank goodness we still haven't.” Chimed in a third.
Comments like those continued for as far as you could scroll. It seems that The People got what they wanted: nothing. No new stadiums, no new half-assed Olympic villages, and no crowds of hundreds of thousands of people swarming the state’s roads, hotels and restaurants.
It was great news for the state.
Not just because it saves Colorado from having to raise billions of dollars in private funds (as their bid suggested). But also, because Colorado simply doesn’t have the infrastructure to handle an event of that magnitude. Lunchtime traffic chokes Denver into a maniacal standstill — people go insane sitting in that bumper to bumper traffic. And it’s no different throughout the I-70 corridor when the weekend warriors start making their weekly pilgrimages.
Just imagine an international event bringing thousands of athletes and tens of thousands of spectators into town… There would be riots and madness. Locals who could not escape would surely lose their minds, and visitors would be wondering why a state like Colorado is so full of anger and discontent, why a place with so much weed is so unchill.
But what about all the tourism money? Some of you might ask. What about all the millions of dollars brought in by the games, that can offset their costs to the state?
Well, according to Andrew Zimbalist, a sports economist from Smith College, there is very little evidence to support the idea of an Olympic tourist “bump.” Not only are the games held in cities that are already popular tourist destinations, but, should a game be plagued by issues (like paralyzed city/mountain traffic, etc.) the games can actually have a negative impact on a city’s PR.
And realistically, Olympic tourists don’t add to existing tourism. They just replace it. Regular tourists, uninterested in getting caught up in the pandemonium of the Olympic Games, will vacation elsewhere. It would scare off all the people who normally visit Colorado to ski or hike or mountain bike and swap them out for a bunch of confused spectators dawdling around looking for the curling rink.
Denver isn’t alone in its skepticism, either. Activists with the “No Boston Olympics” managed to get Boston’s bid for the 2024 Olympics successfully pulled. The mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh, announcing Boston’s disavowal said, “I cannot commit to putting the taxpayers at risk.”
Similarly, Stockholm, Krakow and Oslo all retracted their bids for the 2022 Olympics.
In fact, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has been getting so few bids recently, they’ve started giving the Games away, like white elephant gifts that no one wants to claim.
Consider the drop off: for the 2004 games the IOC received a whopping 12 bids. For the 2020 games, however, they received only five. And 2024? They only got two bids for that one — Los Angeles and Paris. And, fearing that no one was actually going to bid for the 2028 summer Olympics, the IOC simply gave them to LA, and let Paris take 2024.
It’s unfortunate. The Olympics are an incredible event — on the surface. They bring athletes from all over the world together, to compete for their nations; they encourage sportsmanship, inspire people and generally wow the world. It is an international party that different cities are supposed to entertain in good favor, with a smile on their face.
But they have become a burden. They are a party that no one wants to host. And unless something is done to offset the ever-mounting price tag attached to these games, they may fade away into history.
Or, maybe the Olympics should be decentralized, as was the plan for the Colorado games. Maybe they should be split up, but between nations not just US states; spread out to different arenas, fields, stadiums and mountains throughout the world and broadcast as a singular whole. Break up the cost between cities, while at the same time making it possible for smaller, lesser known countries to become hosts as well...
Maybe Denver was on to something, after all.