Olympic referenda like the one that the Boston 2024 bidders are proposing for next year usually result in a thumbs-down from local electorates worried about runaway costs. That's why Munich (52 percent against) and Krakow (70 percent against) pulled out of the race for the 2022 Winter Games and why Denver (60 against) gave the 1976 Winter Games back over a $5 million bond issue for the state's share.
As often as not, political parties say nix before the question gets to a ballot. That's what happened with Rome for the 2020 Summer Olympics and Oslo and Stockholm for 2022. It's no coincidence that the only two remaining contenders for 2022 are Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan, whose totalitarian governments never would submit bids to a popular vote.
Munich, which would have offered compact and cost-effective Games, likely would have been an easy winner in this summer's vote.
"It is now clear Munich would have been served the Games on a silver platter," observed Alfons Hoermann, who heads Germany's national Olympic committee.
Train is on track
Beijing, which is hoping to become the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics, received a predictable thumbs-up from the International Olympic Committee's coordination commission during last week's five-day visit. But the Chinese capital, clearly worried about the more intimate "Keeping It Real" Games proposed by Almaty, are downplaying the cost of their bid by not counting the planned high-speed railway that would connect the city to the mountain venues nearly 200 kilometers away in Zhangjiakou. The reason: The Chinese say that the railway, planned to open in 2019, would be built anyway . . . Javier Fernandez was the most notable novelty amid a global shakeup atop the medal stand at last week's World Figure Skating Championships in Shanghai. The Spaniard dethroned Olympic gold medalist and training partner Yuzuru Hanyu, rusty after December bladder surgery and a February ankle sprain, to become the first performer from his country to win a title. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, who landed a triple axel in the short program, became the first Russian woman to claim the crown since Irina Slutskaya in 2005. Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford outpointed three Chinese pairs to become the first Canadian champs since Jamie Sale and David Pelletier in 2001. France's Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron came out of fourth place to beat US couple Madison Chock and Evan Bates to become the youngest ice dancing victors (at 19 and 20) in 49 years after placing 13th last time. The US women and men, who've now missed the podium for a consecutive nine and six years, respectively, managed to avoid losing spots for next year's event in Boston. Gracie Gold and Ashley Wagner, who were sitting eighth and 11th after the short program, ended up fourth and fifth, while Jason Brown and Adam Rippon, who were sixth and 11th after the first night, moved up to fourth and eighth. Had Brown, who doesn't do a quadruple jump, had a tougher free skate, he could have won a medal, but the base value for his long program ranked only 10th in the field.
Vonn leaves no doubt
Lindsey Vonn capped her comeback season with her record-tying seventh World Cup downhill and fifth super G titles, bringing her career collection of overall and individual discipline crystal globes to 19, equaling Sweden's Ingemar Stenmark. "I think I solidified to myself and everyone else that I'm back," declared Vonn, who missed nearly two years after tearing up her right knee at the 2013 World Championships. Vonn finished third in the overall standings ahead of US teammate Mikaela Shiffrin, who picked up her third straight slalom title. The Austrians hit the double for the second straight year as Marcel Hirscher (a record fourth straight men's) and Anna Fenninger both retained their crowns. "It was for sure the hardest fight I ever had," said Fenninger, who edged Slovenian former champion Tina Maze by only 22 points. The last country to win consecutive men's and women's laurels was Switzerland in 1988 with Pirmin Zurbriggen and Michela Figini . . . While the US women's ice hockey team's 4-2 triumph over archrival Canada in their opener at the World Championships in Sweden was invigorating after the Americans' overtime loss in the Olympic final, it was an inauspicious omen. At the last three global tournaments where they met in the prelims, the winner was beaten in the championship game. The US, which squelched the Finns in its second outing and faces Russia Tuesday, is likely to meet the Canucks in the final. That's been the case in all previous 15 global tournaments. The Yanks, who've won five of the last seven titles, have five Massachusetts natives on the roster — Kacey Bellamy (Westfield), Alex Carpenter (North Reading), Meghan Duggan (Danvers), Michelle Picard (Taunton), and Molly Schaus (Natick) — plus four Boston College undergrads (Megan Keller, Emily Pfalzer, Haley Skarupa, and Dana Trivigno) and Northeastern's Kendall Coyne.
The US men's curling team, which had an excellent beginning with an extra-end loss to Olympic gold medalist Canada and an extra-end victory over defending champion Norway, quickly hit the skids with losses to Switzerland (9-3) and Finland (7-4) at the world championships in Nova Scotia. The Americans, who placed ninth at the Olympics and haven't won a world medal since 2007, still are skipped by three-time Games competitor John Shuster. The road ahead doesn't get any smoother. On Tuesday the US meets Scotland, which formed the Great Britain team that won silver in Sochi, and fourth-place China, then faces bronze medalist Sweden on Wednesday. The US women's team picked up a few victories after its 0-5 start at the world championships in Sapporo but still finished 10th in the 12-team field with their rookie rink skipped by Aileen Sormunen. The Swiss won their third title in four years, knocking off Olympic gold medalist Canada in the final . . . Needham gymnast Aly Raisman, who hadn't competed since she won Olympic gold in London in 2012, made a successful reentry at last week's Jesolo Trophy in Italy, picking up a team gold and bronzes in the all-around and floor exercise. Also on the comeback trail is Games all-around champion Gabby Douglas, who since has changed coaches and locales. As expected, world champion Simone Biles ran the table, winning the all-around and three of the four individual events.
As expected, Missy Franklin turned pro right after leading California to its fourth NCAA swimming title in seven years, signing a contract with WME-IMG that should reap her millions before and after next year's Olympics. "I just felt it was just written in the stars with the way everything happened," said the 19-year-old Franklin, who won three individual events and lowered her own world short-course record in the 200-yard freestyle. Franklin, who passed up a golden payoff after winning four gold medals at the London Games so that she could compete in college, swam for two seasons at Berkeley . . . Olympic gold medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White (ice dancing) and Katie Ledecky (swimming) are among the six finalists for the Sullivan Award honoring the country's top amateur athlete. Also in the mix are Biles, Shawn Barber (track and field), Ezekiel Elliott (Ohio State running back), and Jahlil Okafor (Duke center). The winner will be announced April 19 . . . After blowing its home-turf chance to qualify for the London Games, the US men's soccer team will get another chance on its own soil in October when it again will host the regional under-23 tournament that will decide the entrants for Rio. The two finalists from the eight-team field earn tickets while the third-place team faces Colombia for another. The Americans, who were ninth in 2008 and haven't won an Olympic medal since 1904 when only three teams competed, have failed to qualify for two of the last three tournaments.