scorecardresearch Skip to main content

We were too savvy to get caught up in Olympic fever

A crucial difference between Boston’s bid for the Olympics in 2024 and Atlanta’s in 1996 was public discourse. In Atlanta, where I lived at the time that city campaigned for and received the nomination, Billy Payne and his group were able to corral sufficient power early on to effectively muzzle organized opposition. It seems that John Fish and his group may have sought to do the same by fast-tracking the Boston 2024 bid before the public knew what was in it. This worked, at first, with the US Olympic Committee, but not, finally, with Boston’s own savvy citizens.

I love Olympic competition, having followed it for 50 years and attended once. Yet I am proud of how Bostonians — public officials ultimately included — refused to be cowed by the combination of Olympics lust and high-pressure tactics of unelected power brokers.

Cities that gain the Olympics inevitably sacrifice the voices of their powerless and needy on the altar of USOC and International Olympic Committee royalty. What happened in Boston may help persuade these organizations that just because they call a tune doesn’t mean that others will dance to it.

Here in the cradle of democracy, democracy itself has emerged the winner.


John Barbour
West Roxbury