We don’t need to wait until 2024 to see the negative impacts of hosting the Olympics. We don’t even need to wait until ground is broken for the construction of a single costly and unnecessary Olympic venue. We can see that negative impact now in how the Olympic bid diverts our collective attention—whether citizens, politicians, or press—away from our genuine priorities.
Rather than acting as a catalyst, the Olympic Games act as a cannibal. Money that goes toward the Boston 2024 partnership, a registered 501(c)(3) (“nonprofit”), is money that isn’t going to any of the other charities and nonprofits that pay a large role in Boston’s economy and civic life. (Experiences in Atlanta and London can both attest to the detrimental effect that the Olympics can have on local charities.) The public funds that will inevitably go toward the Olympics—as big as bailouts or as little as personnel time—will be diverted from other more socially beneficial uses. And the long-term planning that is necessary for the city—in light of climate vulnerability, an outmoded and underfunded transportation system, and a growing housing crisis—needs to be done for the needs of the people of Boston, not the wishes of the IOC.
What should Boston be focusing on, rather than a three-week party almost a decade away?
Poverty & Inequality
Boston is the third most unequal city in the United States (Brookings Institution)
21.2% of Bostonians live below the poverty line (US Conference of Mayors)
36% of requests for food assistance in Boston go unmet (US Conference of Mayors)
Nearly 1 in 6 children in Massachusetts is growing up in poverty (Boston Globe, US Census)
Rents in Boston are the third highest in the country (WCVB, Zumper)
The population of people without homes is rising faster in Massachusetts than in any other state (Boston Globe, HUD)
It would take over 20 years for first-time homebuyers earning a median household income to save enough money for the standard 20% down payment on a median home (Wolf Street)
The Boston Public Schools budget continues to face deep cuts (Boston Globe, Boston Globe)
About half of Boston’s public schools do not have a gymnasium, and about 30% do not offer physical education classes (Boston.com)
Tuition at Massachusetts public colleges and universities has risen 20% since the onset of the Great Recession and ranks in the top 10 in the country (Demos)
Health care reform has failed to cure the growing problem of medical bankruptcy (Federal Reserve Bank of Boston)
Significant health care disparities continue to exist across racial/ethnic, income, and education lines (BU)
40% of sick Massachusetts adults report that out-of-pocket medical costs are a serious problem for them (WBUR)
Climate & Environment
Boston is the fourth most vulnerable city in the US to economic losses due to flooding as the sea level rises (World Bank)
The MBTA suffers from significant debt from the Big Dig, chronic underinvestment, and a long backlog of needed upgrades and repairs (T4MA, CLF)