City Council To Consider Withholding Support for Boston's Olympic Bid

City Council To Consider Withholding Support for Boston's Olympic Bid

The Cambridge City Council will consider withholding support of an Olympic bid unless it includes a public process.

  • Posted on: 7 December 2014
  • By: stannenb

In a rare moment of candor, David D'Alessandro, the former John Hancock executive who brought mega-sponsorship to the Boston Marathon, tells us what we need to know about Boston's bid for the 2024 Olympic games: don't believe anything the organizers tell you. Writing an op-ed in the Boston Globe, D'Alessandro advises us to relax because "[t]he details of the bid will change."

Of course they will. Olympic bids are developed in haste, with organizers unable to obtain commitments for what they promise. The bid is an aspiration, not a plan, and is subject to ongoing modification as reality sets in. But, as those who've studied the Olympic process have noted, bids are made by groups dominated by private interests who have the most to gain from them. As the bid gets changed by these groups, it's the public, unrepresented in the process, who will get shortchanged. And there's little doubt that hosting the Olympics is a terrible idea that won't end well.

Monday, the Cambridge City Council has an opportunity to add its voice to those urging skepticism about a Boston Olympic bid. A Policy Order sponsored by Councilors Leland Cheung and Craig Kelly resolves:

That the Council go on record in opposition to any bid to host the Olympics that does not begin with broad community discussion and deliberation, including stakeholders from surrounding communities that would be impacted were the Olympics to be held in Boston.

Boston 2024, the private group organizing for a Boston Olympics, has a long way to go to meet the standard of "community discussion and deliberation." On December 1st, it submitted its preliminary Olympic bid to the US Olympic Committee. That bid is confidential, Boston 2024's president told NECN, because it contains "information about what our strategy is and what's unique about Boston's bid" that they don't wish other bidding cities to see. It hasn't taken long for Boston 2024 to abrogate one of its own principles, to conduct "due diligence in an open, honest, and transparent manner."

At the same time the Council meets, No Boston Olympics will be holding a rally outside a Boston Globe forum on the Olympics at the Institute of Contemporary Art.

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This work by Saul Tannenbaum is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Picture of Munich Olympic train station taken in 2009, by Yoshi5000, licensed CC BY-ND 2.0.


David D'Alessandro worked for many years with John Hancock but is now semi-retired and relatively free to comment . A few years ago he wrote a lengthy Op-Ed in the Boston Globe critical of gambling generally, and of casinos in particular. His concern was genuine, because his father was a gambling addict who got into debt to loan sharks. As a little boy, he remembers the thugs with meat cleavers who came around to collect from his father. As debt and loan sharks are the nasty bedfellow of gambling, we find drugs, corruption and government-sponsored land development deals are the poison of the Olympics.

D'Alessandro assisted the John Hancock sponsorship of the Marathon for many years. The Marathon is relatively low cost with an emphasis on sports and athletes, while the Olympics seem to be product of economic adventurers who have little interest in athletics. But just recently, we learned that the women's winner of last year's marathon failed a drug test.. I do not watch the Marathon results closely anymore, because of my worry that the lead runners could have been taking performance-enhancing drugs.

The order submitted by Councillors Kelley and Cheung to force an open and revelatory public process on the John Fish team is a good start. During those discussions, we should urge D'Alessandro to speak out on the corruption of the Olympics by too much money.

Steve Kaiser
Hamilton Street