Monday, February 14, 2005

2012 Olympics

Who should host the 2012 Olympics?

A small group of avaricious businessmen are trying to bring the 2012 Olympics to New York City. A worse idea I have never heard! London, Madrid, Moscow and Paris are the other cities hoping to host the 2012 Games.

One of the big lies about the Olympics is that the games will bring revenue to the city. The games never bring any revenue to the host city. Some businessmen profit dearly, but the citizens and taxpayers who actually live in the host city spend billions (literally billions) to host and their municipality receives almost nothing in return.

New York continues to close fire stations and subways booths and libraries, schools lack proper funds and health care facilities are over-crowded. The last thing New York City needs is a new tax-payer-funded Olympic stadium and Olympic village. We cannot host an international event requiring the highest level of security.

Athens reports that their final tab for the 2004 Games was over $14,000,000,000 which was double the $7b budget. Just the security budget alone for Athens 2004 was more than the entire budget for Sydney 2000; and still the marathon, one of the premier events, was disrupted by a whacko.

I have watched some level of terrorism disrupt three Olympics in my lifetime: '72 Munich, '96 Atlanta, and '04 Athens. Each of these disruptions was rooted in religious conflict: an anti-Zionist hostage-taking and murders of Israeli athletes by Palestinians in Munich, an anti-abortion and anti-gay Christian fundamentalist exploding a bomb in Atlanta, and some wired anti-papacy activist from Great Britain attacking the front-runner during the Athens marathon. Religious fanatics know that the Olympics is the best stage for making a statement.

America is ill-prepared to handle this. While promoting anti-terrorism on the one hand, the American government is promoting religious zeal and theocratic change on the other. We cannot instill religious fundamentalism into a new American theocracy while spending billions to fight fundamentalist terror, and expect it to be effective (or even make sense).

The American government cannot protect us from fundamentalism while promoting fundamentalism. We did not protect spectators from religious terrorists at the Atlanta Games, what makes anybody think we can do it in 2012? We can't.

London is a city that knows how to handle terrorism! I'll bet they could host an Olympics that would be safe from terrorism. London is tight, secure and very well run. Even The Tube (subway) is safe. They don't take any shit and they don't take any chances.

My first flat in London was within the ring of steel in The City. The ring of steel is not visible, per se, but is really a series of checkpoints around the perimeter of The City where vehicles are checked as they enter the financial and legal center of London. If you are driving a vehicle with tags from Ireland, it is unlikely you will get through. If you are driving a rented car you will be questioned. If you are driving an unmarked panel truck you will be stopped. So, there is not an actual ring of steel; but it is difficult to penetrate the area. London is a safe city.

Paris is a pretty secure city, too. On my first trip to Paris, I took The Metro from DeGaulle airport to l'Ecole Militarie and found my hotel near the Eifel Tower. While my then-girlfriend and I were entering the station, I noticed eight soldiers with automatic weapons policing the area. Throughout my short visit, I saw quite a lot of security on The Metro and around the city. Like London, Paris has had it's share of terrorism in the past, and Paris doesn't take any shit! Paris is a safe city.

Madrid? Not so much. Between the Basque separatists and the Muslim fundamentalists, Madrid is under siege. It would be a very bad idea to bring the Games there. Madrid is not a safe city.

Moscow? This is the great unknown, isn't it!?!?!? We don't really know what's going on in Moscow these days. The transition to a controlled market, financed by American tax dollars, seems to be a success but we never hear anything about them. We hear about new Russian billionaires, but little about the average citizen and the middle-class. The trouble with Chechnya, though, leads me to believe that a Moscow Olympics would be a very bad idea. We do not know if Moscow is a safe city, but is probably as safe as an American city.

The other cities vying for the right to bankrupt their local coffers, eliminate public services for their citizens and line the pockets of a small number of local businessmen are just as deserving as New York. At least two of them are better-qualified and sound like wonderful places for the games!

As a New Yorker, I think London would be a perfect place to host the 2012 games.

Visit the London site for promoting the 2012 Games.

Visit London's "Sign the flag" site to show your support for London as the host city.

Visit the Paris site for promoting the 2012 Games.

Visit the Moscow site for promoting the 2012 Games.

Visit the Madrid site for promoting the 2012 Games.

Visit the New York site for promoting the 2012 Games.

See a comparison at the Game Bids site. Be sure to download the Bid Books for some fascinating reading.

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