A fascinating back and forth about the Olympics yesterday. The unelected rich guy running the bid John Fish tells a group “What bothers me — a lot — is the decline of pride, of patriotism, and love for our country.” WCVB, and perhaps others, characterize this soundbite (link to the video: embedding seems impossible) as questioning “the patriotism of people who don’t want the games in the city.” A NOlympics representative then defends the patriotism of two-thirds of area residents. Score another one for the 64 percent. (The Fundamental Principles of Olympism contained in the Olympic Charter are explicitly supra-national and thus arguably anti-patriotic — “The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind” — but I digress).
Whatever Fish meant by his comment the coverage shows the speed with which influencers like WCVB news producers pounce on “trouble with the Olympics” stories these days. The PR stream is in flood.
Governor Baker voiced a key issue in related WCVB coverage: “I think the big issue that the people in Boston and Massachusetts face is that they don’t have a concrete proposal to chew on.” This was a core objection raised by Games opponents on this recent BMG thread: what practical benefits will the Games deliver, discounting to zero amorphous and unquantifiable gains to our reputation and international prestige, such as it may be. Another key question, featured on earlier threads, is what financial risks will hosting the Games impose on us.
Boston 2024 needs to provide a timetable for offering specific, verifiable answers to these twin questions — what are the practical benefits, and what are the risks — or it has little hope of prevailing in the coming vote on the Games.