In a bold media statement Monday, Olympic bid opponents No Boston 2024 said that “The IOC’s Agenda 2020 is window-dressing.” This most recent tactic comes as Boston City Council President Bill Linehan, chair of the Special Committee on the 2024 Olympics, prepares for another hearing on the bid set for Monday morning at City Hall.
Agenda 2020, a set of 40 innovative new reforms approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in December last year, makes fundamental changes to the Olympic Charter that include the way cities bid for and organize the Games – but also helps protect human rights and the interests of athletes, set a broader perspective on included sports and improve many more important Olympic elements.
Since being unanimously passed by IOC members in Monaco last year, Agenda 2020 has been lauded by national Olympic committees, sports federations as well an Olympic bid and Games organizing committees. In only a few months PyeongChang 2018 and Tokyo 2020 have been availed of major cost-cutting opportunities coupled with sustainability improvements. As a result Tokyo 2020 stands to save hundred of millions of dollars and are embracing an opportunity to include new sports that are relevant to Japan.
Also benefiting are current bid cities for the Olympic Winter Games including Almaty 2022 where $550 million was slashed from the overall proposed budget after the IOC met with bid officials in a new “Agenda 2020 style” site evaluation visit.
Yet No Boston 2024, a group led by advocate Chris Dempsey, chose instead to highlight that “one recommendation includes a provision that host-city contract files are now available in .pdf rather than in print.”
Boston’s plans are in the very early stages and will continue to develop until a final proposal is submitted to the IOC in 2017. Agenda 2020 is an opportunity for Boston to leverage in order to create a low cost and sustainable Games plan – one that didn’t exist as a preliminary plan was put in place at the domestic level.
Last week Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker showed his impatience with the planning of the bid when he asked that new plans be drawn up within a month so that they can be publicly discussed as the September 15 application deadline approaches.
On Saturday United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Chief Scott Balckmun told a commencement ceremony audience at Bentley University “while I completely agree that the important issues of financial risk and taxpayer exposure need to be answered and resolved to the city’s satisfaction, I’m confident that Boston will emerge from these discussions and debates stronger than ever,”
“Boston can be, and I believe it will be, a shining showcase of America at its best.”
Full “No Boston Olympics” Statement:
“Boston2024’s bid requires building the three most expensive Olympic venues from scratch. There is nothing frugal, responsible, or sustainable about the boosters’ plan to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a stadium, velodrome, and aquatics center — only to bulldoze them after the Games leave town.
The IOC’s Agenda 2020 is window-dressing. The majority of the forty recommendations are unrelated to host-city costs, and the ones that are do not provide substantial savings. As an example, one recommendation includes a provision that host-city contract files are now available in .pdf rather than in print. Agenda 2020 fails to fundamentally change the auction dynamic that leads to great outcomes for the IOC, but leaves host cities awash in debt and unneeded facilities.”
Hearings on the Boston Olympic bid are planned to continue and a state-wide referendum is set for November 2016. Other cities in the running for the 2024 Games are Hamburg – who are planning a November referendum, Rome, and likely Paris and Budapest.