Dear Angela Merkel,
So you’ve been tearing your hair out for months trying to figure out how to get the Greeks to repay the $340 billion that they owe pretty much everybody. You’ve don’t want to give them one more euro. Well, I’ve got an idea for you: Don’t bail out Greece. Just convince the powers that be to send the Olympics back to Olympia. Forever.
We here in Boston are being told by Olympic supporters what an economic windfall the games are, and how foolish and shortsighted we’ve been for turning down our big chance. We’ve even been accused of being categorically opposed to too many people having too much fun in close proximity. But there’s another way to look at what we did: We just felt we should pass on the goose that lays a golden egg to somewhere else that needs it more.
And what city is struggling more than Athens? OK. There’s Damascus, Monrovia, and Pyongyang. But nobody expects you to fix those cities. Athens, on the other hand, is Germany’s problem. And it just so happens that Thomas Bach, the International Olympic Committee president, is German, too. Maybe you should give him a call.
We here in Boston may be too curmudgeonly to welcome the world for 17 days — the traffic! the noise! — but Greek pensioners would jump at the chance to sell souvlaki to scores of trampoline finalists.
And even though Greeks won’t get excited about sports competitions they’ll never win, they’ll muster the enthusiasm to scalp tickets.
Maybe you’re worried that Greeks will have their naysayers, like Boston. It’s true they have a habit of saying “no,” even when the alternative is worse. But you won’t hear a peep of opposition. Everyone’s too busy subsistence farming to set up a “No Athens Olympics” Twitter account.
I know what you’re thinking, Angela: Athens already hosted the Summer Olympics in 2004. It spent $16 billion — and bought a new subway system — just before the economy collapsed. But that means it already has an Olympic training pool. All it has to do is clean out the brown scum that’s floating in it. And there’s already a beach volleyball stadium. Think of all the jobs that will be created from scrubbing the graffiti off it!
This time, the Greeks could showcase how fiscally responsible they’ve become. They could host the Austerity Olympics. They could bring back their 2004 mascots: those swollen-footed characters, Athena and Phevos. This time, instead of holding hands, they could be lining up outside a bank.
Of course, something will inevitably be lost if we stop moving the Olympics to a new city every four years: Namely, the International Olympic Committee’s dream of achieving world domination by covering the entire surface of the earth with aging sports facilities. How is China supposed to express itself as a rising power if not by building a glorious 80,000 seat stadium that will one day rent Segways to tourists? How are International Olympic Committee members supposed to pay for their plastic surgery and their kid’s college tuition, if not through the generosity of cities jockeying to host the games?
As valid as those concerns are, it’s time to face facts. It’s not just Boston that passed up the Olympics. Oslo, Krakow, Stockholm, and your own beloved city of Munich did, too. So maybe it’s time to send the Olympics back where they started. To be sure, the Temple of Zeus is no Widett Circle. But with a little renovation, it could look real nice.