Thursday, July 07, 2005

Back home in the states where no one seems to care about the Olympics or the G8 Summit

Back in New York, I now remember that it is summer. Dublin's summer is like the end of a New England fall, so I haven't worn shorts in a week. But I'm sure it won't be long before I am complaining about the heat again, just like before I left when it was in the 90s...

In other news, London won the right to host the 2012 Olympics, leaving thousands of disappointed Parisians, millions of delighted New Yorkers, and further evidence that the bid selection process is entirely political. (On a side note, for those of you in America who probably saw little coverage of all this, the video for the Moscow bid was particularly funny, featuring a bear walking through the streets and President Putin speaking in rough English about wanting to show how much Russia has distanced itself from its Soviet past.)

Paris had been the firm favorite for most of the process and after visiting the city last week, the citizens appeared to be strongly in favor of the bid and the city's facilities looked to be in order. (Ok, I didn't actually inspect the Stade de France...but I did take a straw poll of two Parisians and watch some French news...) But then, upon my arrival in Dublin, just four days before the final vote, I began to watch the British channels SkyNews and BBCNews. They, along with David Beckham, told me that London was making a strong final push, with the support of all sorts of athletes and leaders, including a late appearance by Tony Blair in Singapore. All of a sudden London was making this a legitimate two-horse race. Then of course Jacques Chirac made his comments about British food that were probably true...but not very politically savvy. Instead of pushing Paris forward as Blair did with London, Chirac may have led to the French bid's ultimate demise.

All this may or may not be news to too many people, but the point is this: The process should have been based simply on determining which city would be best prepared to host the Games in 2012, not on a glorified popularity contest. I have no doubt that London is an excellent choice to host the Games, but I just question the final moments that may have inspired the victory of their bid. A final push should not be a necessary part of the process. The selection of the host city takes around two years, and by the end of that time it should be pretty clear what each city has to offer and the voting process should be fairly straightforward.

Instead the IOC milked the last few days for all they were worth, getting five cities, countries, and their leaders to grovel for the right to host an event that will probably end up being detrimental to the economy anyway (see Time Europe for a good article on this). The Olympics are a fantastic and important worldwide spectacle, and they will be given a good home in London. Let's just hope that next time the selection process is a little less political...

1 comment:

  1. Rich, I must say, I truly admire your content-rich (no pun intended) writing style. Bravo!