District of Columbia

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The New Hat in the Olympic Ring

15 Dec, 2014

By: Tracey Schelmetic
Washington , DC, Produces “Unity” Video to Showcase DC/Baltimore As Potential 2024 Summer Olympic Venue

At a time when nobody seems to want to throw their hat into the Olympic bidding war, there has been a most unlikely contender -- the District of Columbia. And it’s banking on unity to win the day. Yes, unity. Yes, in DC. No, don’t bother to adjust your monitor. You read it correctly the first time.

Washington DC is hoping to show the world a different face than usual: an Olympic face. The city plans to bid for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games, and it will compete with Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco for the honor of being the American finalist in the global field.  The Washington-Baltimore area made an unsuccessful bid for the 2012 Summer Games that ultimately went to London.

Washington 2024, the group tasked with making the bid for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games, recently released an all-star “bipartisan” video entitled “Unity” that features athletes and politicians of all stripes, including former Republican Senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole and former Democratic presidential candidate and Governor of Vermont Howard Dean, claiming “I’m in” on support for the games. The ad spot was produced by the bipartisan public affairs firm Purple Strategies.

According to John Moag Jr., former chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority, the region boasts "more sporting facilities in a 40-mile radius than any other city in the U.S." and "more than 100,000 hotel rooms.” If the region wins its bid, events would be spread out from Baltimore to Richmond, Virginia, but most will be based in Washington DC itself.

According to Fox News, one the biggest challenges to overcome will be Washington DC’s reputation for “nasty and unrelenting partisanship that defines official Washington.” Opposing camps – including campaign managers for both former presidential candidate Mitt Romney and President Obama – told Fox News they don’t agree on much, but that they believe that a 2024 Olympic Games for Washington could be good for the city and act to unite it behind a common and unifying theme: sports.

Advocates for the Games say Washington already has many of the requirements of an Olympic host city: it’s very “walkable” and has the kind of tourist infrastructure that will be required for millions of visitors, from housing and transportation to sanitation to security. This, say supporters was demonstrated by the city’s ease with handling President Obama’s first inauguration in January 2009, which drew nearly two million visitors to the city. The Olympic venue, they say, could encompass RFK Stadium as well as the National Mall, and provide an opportunity to renovate some areas of the nation’s capital that would benefit from some repurposing and refurbishment.

According to the Baltimore Sun, a study conducted in 2000 found that a Summer Olympics Games would cost the region $2 billion to build and run, with a return of $5.3 billion in total economic impact. This translates to $6.7 billion in today's dollars.

If Washington D.C. makes the first cut and is chosen as the U.S.’s finalist – an event that Washington insiders jokingly call “the Primary” – then the city will progress to the final decision-making round in 2017 when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will pick a winning country to host the Summer Games.  

The 2016 Summer Olympic Games will be held Rio de Janiero. The 2020 host city has not yet been identified by the IOC, but the finalists are Tokyo, Madrid and Istanbul.

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