If the International Olympic Committee votes as expected at next week’s Monaco special session to make the Games easier and cheaper to host, it’ll obviously be a boon to the four potential American bid cities, which are planning to use existing, temporary, and demountable facilities. That’s the only way that the 2024 budget can be kept under the recommended $5 billion figure. The actual price, of course, will be several multiples of that when infrastructure costs are factored in. That’s what sent Sochi’s number above the stratospheric $50 billion for this year’s Winter Games and that’s what Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. will have to calculate before the USOC makes its go or no-go decision next month.
Unlike the Big Dig, which took more than 15 years and more than $15 billion to build two tunnels and a bridge, Boston would have to make extensive road and transit improvements in nine years with an absolute deadline. That’s why the USOC advised the 2024 hopefuls to make sure that any infrastructure they’ll have to build is part of the city’s long-term plan.
So many capable cities either have been scared off or turned off by the process that the Lords of the Rings not only will give future bidders $880 million toward costs but also will explain in detail early on what’s required in staging the Games and will clarify the budgeting procedures, which the IOC should have been doing for decades.
The IOC, which once allowed host cities to add demonstration events to the Games program, is expected to give them the option again, which would allow Tokyo to restore baseball and softball, which were dropped after 2008, for 2020. Japan already has the facilities. The question would be whether the IOC wants to add several hundred additional athletes at a time when it wants to impose a limit of 10,500.
Petrodollars again carried the day as Qatar, which will stage the 2022 soccer World Cup and is bidding for the 2024 Olympics, outpolled Eugene, Ore., by three votes for the 2019 world outdoor track and field championships. While the dates (Sept. 28-Oct. 6) will be the latest in history, the average temperature in Doha still will be in the mid-90s. Eugene, which would have been the first US host of what is considered the third-most important global event after the Olympics and World Cup, is a track Mecca that would have offered much better competitive conditions plus jammed stands at historic Hayward Field, which would have received a significant upgrade. But Doha, which lost out to London for the 2017 event, convinced the IAAF voters that cash trumps all. “All they have is money,” groused Spanish federation chief Jose Maria Odriozola after Barcelona was eliminated in the first round.
Olympic bobsled medalist Elana Meyers Taylor and two-time champion Kaillie Humphries of Canada made history by piloting male sledmates in last month’s North American Cup races under the new rules that allow women to compete with men. Meyers Taylor, who won a couple of four-man medals in Calgary with Dustin Greenwood, Adrian Adams, and Carlo Valdes, will be eligible to race in World Cup events as driver of the USA III entry. Mixed-gender events, which the IOC will be encouraging at future Games, are becoming more frequent. They’ve been added to the diving and synchronized swimming programs for next year’s world aquatics championships in Russia . . . After coming up empty at last weekend’s World Cup luge opener in Austria, where the Germans ran the table, the Americans are back on home ice next weekend in Lake Placid, where they won a couple of silvers when the circuit last stopped there in 2013 and where Erin Hamlin claimed her world title in 2009. This season’s new wrinkle is a sprint event where the top 15 from the other races slide down the normal run but where the timing starts after the first 100 meters. No surprise that the Germans dominated the sprint debut on the short and soft Igls track, winning all three races and going 1-2-3-4 in the women’s.
US women boxers step up
The US women made history at the recent world boxing championships in South Korea by winning two titles for the first time with Olympic medalists Claressa Shields (75 kilograms) and Marlen Esparza (51 kg), while Tiara Brown (57 kg) collected a bronze. Ireland’s Katie Taylor, the planet’s best at any weight, claimed her fifth straight crown at 60 kg . . . Gabrielle Douglas’s and Aly Raisman’s post-Olympic comebacks are going well enough that both of the London gold medalists were named to the 14-member national gymnastics team after last month’s Texas camp, along with 2012 teammate Kyla Ross. Making the squad for Rio in 2016 will be more of a challenge. No US woman has made it to consecutive Games since Dominique Dawes and Amy Chow did it in 2000 . . . Though it looked fishy, the Australian men didn’t dump their final group match to Angola at the September basketball World Cup in order to avoid meeting the Americans in the quarterfinals, the international federation concluded recently. The Aussies, who rested two starters and played two others for only four minutes, blew a 15-point lead to the Africans and lost by 8. Australia lost to Turkey in the second round.
Material from Olympic committees, sports federations, interviews, and wire services was used in this report. John Powers can be reached at email@example.com.