One of the most prominent cities considering a bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics has reportedly decided against it. New York City never formally announced its attention to bid on the Games and was only one of a handful of American cities considering a bid, but according to a Wednesday report in the Wall Street Journal, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration will not prepare a bid in part because it does not believe the cost of hosting the Olympics would be worth it to the city.
Proponents of hosting the Olympics often argue that the Games will boost the economy, lead to job growth, and provide increases in tourism. New York has rejected those arguments, however, in deciding not to bid on the Games.
“Very few people would say that New York City is not quote on the map and is not a major global city,” Alicia Glen, the city’s deputy mayor for housing and economic development, told the Journal, adding that the Olympics could actually “deter tourism to some extent” as New York has seen record tourism numbers.
Ms. Glen said top officials also feared an Olympic bid would distract from the mayor’s economic-development agenda. If the city focused on particular sporting venues, or particular neighborhoods where events would be held, other parts of the city could be neglected, she said.
Those feelings are rejections of basic arguments for hosting the Olympic Games, but New York isn’t alone: a litany of academic research argues that the Games and other mega-events like them are not the economic boons proponents say they are, and as Deadspin’s Barry Petchesky noted Tuesday, “a long list of potential hosts” for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games “have given up on their Olympic dreams because the whole thing is one huge, useless waste of money.” Cities in Poland, Germany, and Sweden have walked away from potential Olympic bids, each of them citing the costs, and a similar bid is falling apart in Norway as public support for hosting the Games evaporates.
There are still two potential hosts lined up for 2022, and a large group of cities still considering bids for 2024. But mass media coverage of the cost of recent Olympics and other mega-events — namely the $50 billion Sochi Winter Olympics and the social unrest around Brazil’s attempts to host both the World Cup and Olympics between now and 2016 — has drawn public attention to the fact that these events are not the sure success stories they are promised to be. We’re still going to have the Olympics, and we should. But perhaps this sort of recognition from potential hosts and major cities across the world, as sports economists have told me before, is a major step toward holding them in much more cost-efficient, responsible ways that allow hosts to capture the social and cultural benefits that do exist without creating the problems that too often come along as well.