Friday Question of the Day – Should DC Host the 2024 Summer Olympics?

Photo by PoPville flickr user Paul Sirajuddin

From USAToday:

“Washington D.C. knows a little about elections and this time it thinks it has a winning bid. On Tuesday, the organizing committee formally announced its intention to host the 2024 Summer Olympics.

DC 2024 estimates that the cost of hosting the 2024 Olympic Games will be between $4 and 6 billion using existing stadiums in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.”

Anyone know how much of the $4-$6 billion DC would be accountable for? But for today’s Friday Question of the Day – do you think DC/MD/VA would be a good host for the Summer Olympics?

66 Comment

  • This city is tottaly unprepared for the daily commute let alone the Olympics.

    • I know what I’m prepared for — renting out space in my house for obscene amounts of money.

      And getting the hell outta here for the whole thing.

      • That didn’t work so well for the first Obama inuguration, though, did it?

        • It worked for me the 2nd inauguration. I rented my unrenovated Petworth Rowhome for $500/night for three nights. Stayed with family in Fairfax. Piece of cake.

  • Call me curmudgeonly, but I have no interest in that unbelievably massive influx of people into our fair city — summer tourist season with the matching T-shirt hordes makes things unnavigable enough, and WMATA can hardly manage Nats/Caps game crowds, or any given Tuesday for that matter. Plus all the ridiculous and often temporary infrastructure — no thank you, let’s not pour money into a bottomless pit for facilities planned for a single month rather than smart growth. DC doesn’t need the tourism publicity, either.

  • Yes of course!

  • No. DC is a big small town. The metro can not handle a huge influx of people.

  • We cannot afford that s***.

  • 10 years from now, it’s probably 50/50 that we’ll have moved out of the city by then. I vote no, if only because I will not be able to rent out my apartment for an obscene amount of money and go on vacation for 2 weeks.

  • Can’t even keep the fucking Red Line working on the weekends (or ever for that matter)… we’re gonna flood it with millions of people? oh hells naw

  • I won’t be here, so YES!!

  • I think hosting the Olympics is good for a city or country stepping out on the international stage and looking to establish a new reputation. I’m not sure the US or DC have any need to do that on such a large scale. Plus, most Americans have a dim view of DC and what happens here so we wouldn’t have broad national support.

    I don’t think London benefited greatly for all their efforts

    • I agree. Why should the US host one out of every four Olympics?? Let the countries that really need the economic/ PR boost have it. Then the Americans can learn a little something about another country from the Gumbels (or whoever does Olympic commentary these days. I’m old.)

  • I think it would only be a good idea if we VERY carefully planned the improvements so they would be useful past the event. For example… replacing RFK with a facility the Redskins would use after the Olympics were over… creating an Athletes Village in SW that would turn into low income housing… additions to the transit network that make sense for residents to use for commuting… I think this COULD be done, but only with incredible forethought and planning. I actually would love to see our city showcased on the world stage for something OTHER than a dysfunctional Congress.

  • No. no. no. no.

  • They tried to make me go to rehab, but I said, no, no, no.

  • No, but we should host the winter olympics!

  • Absolutely not. The World is littered with cities that have hosted the Olympics and then realized that it was a costly mistake. The only 2 cities to have made a profit are Los Angeles and Barcelona. Los Angeles was unique in that the IOC allowed the city to use existing stadia, something they wouldn’t allow today. Barcelona is perhaps the only real example of a city that used the Olympics more than the Olympics used it. If DC was to host the Olympics it would cost the residents a fortune in taxes and bonds to finance the event. No thank you!!
    I would argue that we could avoid most of the waste by building one Olympic village in southern Switzerland (home of the IOC) that could host the winter and summer games every 2 years.
    Beyond that, I think they should do away with the Olympics all together. The IOC are just a bunch of criminals who profit off other people’s misery.

    • @ Snarky: +$14 B (London) – $43 B (Beijing)!

      • Er, I think your London figure is for just the £9 billion that the games brought in but does not include the roughly £8.5 billion that it cost to stage them. While that might make one think that it still made a profit of £0.5 billion, the reality is that this small amount of profit will quickly disappear as the costs to maintain the stadia and infrastructure increase over time.
        Most economists will tell you that hosting the Olympics is a fool’s game.

    • You are right about the cost. Athens damn near failed to pull it together and is struggling with the facilities.

      Some of the cost would be picked up by VA, MD, WV, PA because they need a variety of locations for the events. I can’t even imagine the political wrangling that would be necessary to pull this off.

      People don’t realize that accommodations need to be made before the games so that athletes can become acclimated to the climate and elevation. They also don’t consider the need for practice venues for the athletes and facilities for trainers/coaches.

  • I adore the Olympics, but DC isn’t set up for that kind of thing. Nor should it be. If it was a catalyst for infrastructure improvements I might be more inclined to offer tepid support, but I doubt that even an Olympic push could pull off what DC really needs. Plus: another stadium? No thanks.

    The Bay Area should host it instead.

  • If Ted Leonsis and Dan Snyder want the Olympics here, let them pay for it.

  • Yes! It could be just what we need to force us to improve the metro system, for one.

  • 100% yes. Also, it’s not like they wouldn’t improve the metro/transportation before holding them here.

  • I’m an Olympics fanatic. I don’t care about the cost or inconvenience…let’s do it!

    Of course, it would really be the Northern Virginia Olympics, but still.

  • No, we shouldn’t. And you didn’t ask, but we shouldn’t build the soccer stadium, either.

  • The Olympics are a bloated, bombastic, behemoth of bad taste; unfair “competition” between bogus “amateur” athletes, designed to fulfill some outdated romantic falsehood of “National Pride”.

    I hate hate hate them with a borderline obsession. No Olympics!

  • No. We can’t pave our roads, mail temp parking permits, or respond properly to reports of masturbating bicyclist stalkers. WTHeck are we doing talking about International Olympic Games!

  • binpetworth


    Two words: Metro and Pepco. If those two cluster**ck companies can’t handle the day-to-day load of hundreds of thousands of people using their services, how on earth will they magically support an extra million people, lights, etc.?

  • No. Big waste of money. It’s better spent on making DC a more livable city. Schools that compete with MoCo and Fairfax Co by 2024 should be the goal.

    • Given that DC is consistently at or near the top of public education spending per student compared to other states, I don’t think lack of funding is the problem with our schools.

      • This. DC should really put aside some of this wasted cash, completed dismantle the wasteful public school administration and use the money for the resulting law suits and to implement hiring incentives.

      • Yes, but that wasn’t my only point. I think it’s better for DC to take the money and spend it to make the city more livable. I don’t know what they can do to improve public schools, but what they’re doing now obviously isn’t working well when people that can afford to move to the suburbs or send their kids to private schools. The solution might be to open more schools or magnet programs in places like Logan Circle/U St/Colombia Heights/Mt/. Pleasant which are experiencing a population growth.

  • I find it laughable that anyone can put that ~4-6 billion number out there after having just come off the 2012 games in London that cost 14 BILLION DOLLARS!

    There hasn’t been an Olympics that have cost less than 6 billion dollars since the 1988 games.

    So no, the Games have grown so ridiculous, they only serve to break the financial backs of the cities that host them.

  • alphatango

    Totally needs a “Yes… but” option. A while back there was talk about doing a joint bid with Baltimore. That’d be cool!

  • I just don’t think we have the infrastructure to support one. Do we even have enough hotel rooms to accommodate a crowd of that size? The Metro would be an unnavigable mob scene the entire time they were here. Even if the entire system stayed in service, which I am doubting it would.

    And what about cell service? I remember when the Colbert/Stewart rally was going on and it was impossible to find anyone because no calls or texts were going through once we got to the Mall. Our cell towers are not equipped to deal with that kind of overload, much less an Olympic-sized one.

    • Do people realize that “we don’t have the infrastructure to support one” is exactly the reason we should have one. I think going to a few of the events would be cool…but I’d be in it to see all the infrastructure improvements…timelines would get moved up,Streetcars around the city. Metro updated, RFK site re-imagined, Anacostia re-worked…all of this is costly…and olympic type stuff is what moves timelines and gives political ground cover. Is it a great use of money…depends. most likely without something like this..metro keeps putting bandaids on problems vs fixing the source. Would it mean 3-4 yrs of terrible traffic..but then world class infrastructure….yes.

  • Sure let’s have them here. Hopefully DC will be a state by then and we can see how they will handle an Olympics without federal funding. 🙂

  • I cannot comprehend the Olympics Hate. The greatest sports event in the world could be in DC and you’re worried about the traffic? I think you need to step back and ask whatever happened to the child you once were, and when you throttled him!

  • I’d like to see a single “yes” answer that explains why they feel that way. If you look at past Olympics in other cities, you quickly realize:
    1) Costs tend to go way over projections, as others have pointed out. An Olympics in DC would likely cost well over $10B, minimum, when all is said and done.
    2) No city has ever really come out ahead after holding the Olympics, other than LA (which was the only city to bid on the 1984 games, so they dictated terms) and Barcelona (and even there, the city now has tons of leftover infrastructure from the games falling into disrepair from lack of use).
    3) The “improved infrastructure” argument has been proven to be a myth. DC infrastructure might even suffer more as a result of the games–for example, it’s likely the additional hotels built to meet Olympic capacity would not be able to see a profit after the games ended. The need to increase Metro would likely mean a poorly run bidding process that sees shoddy construction and major cost overruns, something that’s happened in other cities like Montreal and Beijing. Or, worse, we could be like Atlanta, paying for infrastructure improvements that never actually happen.
    The whole thing is the biggest boondoggle ever–there’s absolutely no reason ANY city should ever want to host the games.

    • Agree to point 1. not sure point 2 is factual..but sounds plausible.

      disagree with point 3. DC probably won’t have to build additional hotels. The region can handle the crowds. From Fredricksburg, to national harbor to baltimore, to dc…we have plenty of hotel rooms. Not that it matters…DC won’t be spending money on building hotels…private companies will…maybe they build them in areas that need influx.

      Our Metro needs money. Our Metro needs a major overhaul…neither VA or MD wants to pony up anything. The only good thing about our metro currently is that it is mostly clean. I think without something like this – nothing gets done to fix the problem…is it mostly a boondoogle…yes. but one I will support if fed dollars are involved.

  • I’m not sure where I stand on this, but legitimate question for those saying we couldn’t accommodate that many people… we didn’t do half bad with Obama’s first inaugural. Granted, these crowds would be here longer than one weekend, but everything didn’t go to sh*t during that, and would an Olympic crowd really be THAT much bigger? Consider that a lot of fans would be coming in for a few days and leaving; not everyone shows up and stays for the entire duration.

  • Another question. The financial aspect of this depends heavily on how much funding the feds would kick in. 4-6 billion is a drop in the federal bucket. What percentage of total costs did the feds fund for Atlanta?

    • much does dc spend…how much do the feds spend…if there is one thing that would make the republicans in congress spend money on dc…its a bald eagle, nationalism, wave the flag thing like the olympics…if the feds kick in half…I think it would delicious.

      • VA and MD would also be paying for stuff, esp if their venues were being used (patriot center, comcast center, etc). Also they’d be paying for stuff like archery fields, canoeing and kayaking, and other stuff that just couldn’t happen in the city proper.

  • The last bid failed this one will likely fail as well so I am not going to get too worked up about it one way or another.

    Not sure that summer tourist season + Olympic tourists are a good mix or that there is capacity in the city/DC metro but since it is likely that a number of the event aren’t exactly going to be close by but further out in VA or MD it does spread some of the need further afield that the Metro accessible areas.

    I am not sure where exactly they are thinking of putting the Olympic village downtown and I am unsure what the convention center has to offer (it has “space” but don’t know if it is good for some of the indoor events they are thinking about).

    • Stuff like boxing, fencing might be able to in there… also maybe early rounds of indoor volleyball (not every round of these events would be able to pack the verizon center).

  • Sure, why not. Everyone seems really worried about the cost, but let’s put it in perspective. Let’s say that the total cost is crazy high – $20 billion. Well, the games are 10 years away when the host city is announced. So, that’s $2 billion a year. Already, it’s a lot more manageable. Now, let’s talk about *who* will fund the games. Typically, it’s a combo for US Host Cities of city, state, and federal dollars. The feds will pick up at least a third of the cost. So, we’re at about $1.3 billion a year. Let’s just guess (and it’s a conservative guess) that the private sector will pick up a billion or two. Which is really more than fair – tell real estate developers that we need an Olympic Village and we’ll give them some tax breaks if they hold off on leasing their new apartments till after the games and let the athletes stay there in the meantime. Who wouldn’t agree to that? That’s incredible marketing for your leasing and sales office. Buy a condo in the Olympic Village? Own something that’s both historic AND new construction? They’ll sell out in ten minutes.
    Lastly, let’s look at how these games would really go – this would be a combo of DC, Maryland, Virginia, and maybe even West Virginia. I’d envision DC, Baltimore, Annapolis, and Tysons to all be hosting something or other. And those cities and states would be picking up part of the cost. So the whole burden wouldn’t fall on the District. Plus, a lot of the costs that other cities have endured have been over things that we don’t need to do, like ramping up airport capacity. We have THREE airports, and they’re already pretty modern. That’s a billion bucks that London and Athens spent right there that we don’t have to. We have more hotel rooms in the metro area than any other city in the US except New York. And yes, there will be positive externalities that come from hosting – major improvements to Metro, regional rail, and long-awaited real estate redevelopment. Rebuild RFK , develop the rest of Hill East, and why not go ahead and demolish Potomac Gardens while we’re at it to build the Olympic Village in the heart of the Hill? It would be rebuilt as a world-class development, similar to Ellen Wilson over near Eastern Market but way bigger, used to house the athletes, and then turned over to be a combo of market rate and affordable units. We could even get rid of the prison gate fencing! And the big reason stuff like that costs so much is because it takes too long – the Olympics would give an urgency to move forward quickly, so a lot of the costly waiting could be cut out.
    I dunno – I just think this would be our shot to do a lot of stuff that everyone else is right, we will eventually do, but to do it in ten years instead of 25, and to do it with a considerable amount of financial help from the feds that we don’t get any other way. Bring ’em on – let’s get the games!

  • Dear PoP,
    Please add the option “Aw HELL no!!!” to the poll.

  • And what about the heat? Could you even do the marathon and some of the endurance events in the soup that is DC in the summer? I know this are world class athletes and all, but something to consider.

    • Emmaleigh504

      Before the Atalanta games some track teams spent summers at my school practicing in the heat and humidity. It was pretty neat to meet the athletes.

  • The only way this could happen is if the entire region was committed to it, and that includes the federal government. Even mighty London, with great support from its regional government and the UK government, strained to both prepare for and present the 2012 Games. I do not see anything like that commitment here from the District, Maryland, or Viginia, and I don’t see that commitment and cooperation arising in the four years before the selection is made, or the seven years that would then remain for actual preparation. Further I doubt the federal government would have any interest in pouring immense sums of money into the DC region – you couldn’t even sell it a a jobs program since the nation already thinks that DC has weathered the Great Recession by suckling at the federal teat.
    No, save your money, don’t even bother with a bid. How about reaching for something more attainable, like the Super Bowl, or even the World Series? (Though maybe that should be: “attainable”.)

  • Lived in Atlanta before and after the games.

    (1) you won’t be able to afford tickets
    (2) you won’t get the event you want
    (3) there won’t be jobs for locals (or volunteer opportunities for your teen’s resume)
    (4) you will deal with years of construction/detours
    (5) there will be corruption (more than normal)
    (6) the poor will be run out of town
    (7) venues need to be maintained after the Games. Who’s going to pay for it?

  • DC CapHill

    Not just no, but HELL TO THE NO. The IOC is one of the most corrupt organizations in the entire World, and NOBODY, not even the “successful” cities have ever come out “ahead.”

    Read Dave Zirin; ‘Welcome to the Terrordome’ for a synopsis of what hosting the Olympics does to a city.

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