Olympic Bid Opposition Guru To Take Aim At Denver 2030 In Debate

Denver constituents who are currently mulling the prospect of a bid to host the 2030 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games will get a chance this month to hear from the unofficial bid-opposition brand – ‘No Boston Olympics.’

Boston 2024 and Opponents Debate Olympic Bid (Fox 25 Screen Grab)
Boston 2024 and Opponents (Chris Dempsey second from right) Debate Olympic Bid (Fox 25 Screen Grab)

The co-Chair of the group that was founded to put an end to Boston’s Olympic endeavours, Chris Dempsey, is scheduled to participate in a debate March 10 that is being sponsored by a group of neighbourhood organizations in the Colorado capital.  Dempsey co-wrote “No Boston Olympics:  How and Why smart Cities Are Passing on the Torch” after he helped take apart the 2024 Olympic bid race as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) looked on helplessly.

It was shortly after Dempsey participated in a live televised debate among his co-author Andrew Zimbalist and Boston 2024 Executives that the Boston Mayor called the end of the bid.

Though it may be that Denverites don’t need too much convincing to pass on a bid.  The city already famously snubbed its won opportunity to host the Winter Games in 1976 after citizens voted against a bond issue necessary to finance the Games.  Organizers later  threw up their hands and said “never mind” to the IOC, and the Games were hosted in Innsbruck instead.

Dempsey points to costly, high-risk construction and an “auction-style” competition that provides few benefits for the winning city, as reasons why interested cities should stay clear of hosting the Games.  His group successfully leveraged social media to decimate the Boston bid before the International competition could even begin, plunging public support below 40 per cent and forcing the mayor to pull the plug.

He went on to consult with Hamburg 2024 opposition before that city’s citizens voted against the project in a referendum and he spoke with opponents of 2024 bids from Rome and Budapest before they too were successful in ending candidacies after support diminished.

Dempsey’s powerful opposition brand forced the IOC to abandon the 2024 selection process and instead award the Games to both remaining candidates – Paris in 2024 and Los Angeles in 2028.  With little construction required in those cities, Dempsey’s message didn’t resonate and public support remained firm.  LA’s bid maintained an impressive 88 per cent approval rating from Angelenos.

The IOC has since changed its bidding rules, promising a more interactive approach with cities and reforms that will cut up to a billion dollars from the price of hosting the Summer Games by implementing new efficiencies and leveraging relaxed siting requirements.

Chris Dempsey of No Boston Olympics (Twitter Photo)
Chris Dempsey of No Boston Olympics (Twitter Photo)

Dempsey has been invited to speak at an IOC conference “Olympism in Action” prior to the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires in October where one of the topics will include “Why should a city host the Olympic Games?”

United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Chair Larry Probst said last month at the PyeongChang Games that the U.S was interested in hosting 2030 edition and so far previous host city Salt Lake City and Reno-Tahoe, along with Denver, have expressed interest.

The Utah capital has emerged as a favourite in the fledgling race due to its existing and well-maintained venues that were developed for the 2002 Games.  This aligns well with the IOC’s new hosting model that shuns new construction in favour of existing facilities even if they are not in a compact footprint.

Currently the cities of Sion in Switzerland, Stockholm in Sweden, Graz in Austria, Calgary in Canada and Sapporo in Japan are considering bids for the 2026 Games and the IOC has made it evident that they will favour a European host after a 16-year absence from the continent.  If that happens, the window will be open for the U.S. in 2030.

The 2026 winner will be announced September 2019.  There is no schedule set to site the 2030 Games.

A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.

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