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Friday, December 5, 2014

Boston Against Olympics Bid’s letter to the United States Olympic Committee:

Citizens Opposed to the Boston 2024 Bid
December 2, 2014
Dear USOC Board of Directors:
We are residents from all 23 diverse neighborhoods of Boston. We are united in opposition to Boston 2024’s bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympic Games. Boston 2024 has held no open meetings to discuss its plans in any of our neighborhoods, nor has the organization sought, or obtained, any formal approval from local government. We have asked repeatedly to be included in this process, but Boston 2024 has ignored us. We’ve considered all the different courses of actions we might take. We chose to write to you before we pursue other ways of making our voices heard.
The Boston 2024 Executive Organizing Committee pledged to construct its bid using “due diligence in an open, honest, and transparent manner.” A spokesperson for Mayor Marty Walsh stated that his administration would be “committed to gaining a full understanding of the impacts hosting the Summer Olympics would have on the City of Boston.” Given these promises, and considering that one of the IOC’s criteria for selecting host cities is “government support, legal issues and public opinion,” it is absurd that Boston 2024 has denied public input into their Boston 2024 Olympics proposal.
Boston 2024 bidders behave as if the concerns of the people of Boston are of no import in light of their sensational 10-year, multi-billion dollar Olympics extravaganza. Here are some of our concerns:
  1. Macro Economic Impact
    1. Once Boston signs an agreement to host, we will be responsible for the financial obligations for any shortage of private funds.
    2. Boston has a thriving tourism industry grounded in American history. There is no data demonstrating any long-term gain in tourism money for cities who host the Olympics. We do not want to transfer existing income to an Olympic attraction, nor do we want to mar our historic landscape.
  2. Micro Economic Impact
    1. We do not accept the displacement of our residents. Hosting cities have used the Olympics as an excuse to “clean up” neighborhoods. We reject this thinly-veiled gentrification. We are committed to longer-term solutions to economic deprivation and do not want our most vulnerable citizens simply swept away.
    2. Residents most likely to have their daily lives impacted by construction, event production and ongoing use of the Olympic venues are those least likely to be able to afford to attend Olympic events. Economic studies show there is little to no economic benefit to cities for hosting Olympics. These residents would never see any benefits of hosting an Olympics. It is an injustice to ask one group of people to pay these kinds of costs for the entertainment of others.
    3. With dignitaries from around the globe converging at an Olympics, a perceived need for more security is triggered. We don’t want Boston to become militarized, with increased surveillance and the looming presence of more armed officers in our streets, particularly in our communities of color.
  3. Infrastructural implications
    1. Boston is unable to maintain our existing transportation infrastructure. Our transportation authority has the highest debt of any in the country. Adding unnecessary facilities to Boston’s ongoing maintenance obligations is irresponsible.
    2. Increased traffic is another concern. Boston is not a planned city. We struggle daily with horrible traffic. Adding multiple construction projects will only compound this problem for the next ten years, and traffic during the three-week event will be a nightmare.
We believe members of  Boston 2024 stand to profit from their closed door dealings. They should not be rewarded for their secretive process and refusal to engage Boston’s concerns.
Boston 2024 is headed by John Fish, owner of Boston’s largest private construction company. He recently criticized everyday Bostonians’ opposition to the Olympics bid by asking, “Who are they and what currency do they have?” Boston 2024 echoes the infamous group “The Vault,” a committee of elite business executives who met in a bank vault in the 1930s to plot a city future of their private design. The better question is, as Boston Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham wrote: ”If the USOC picks Boston, we will be well along the road to hosting an Olympics – a vast, complex, and incredibly costly undertaking – without ever having had a meaningful public conversation about it. How nuts is that?”
From the Boston Tea Party to recent protests of thousands in solidarity with activists in Ferguson, MO, Boston’s culture is steeped in a rich history of civil disobedience. Boston 2024 has not listened or responded to the people of our city, leaving it up to you to clean up their mess. No city should suffer this degradation. The US is the standard bearer for democracy. If you choose Boston to host the 2024 Olympic Games, you leave us with no choice but to show the world what democracy looks like.
Sincerely,
Citizens Opposed to the Boston 2024 Bid
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