We’re still a few days from the opening ceremonies in Sochi, but the battle for gold in Synchronized Media Bitching is already heated. It’s one for the ages.
Someday we might remember this race the same way we do Gail Devers’ dramatic victory in the ’92 women’s 100M or Michael Phelps’ win in the ’08 men’s 100M Butterfly or — wait, what? You don’t remember those? OK, fine.
But in all seriousness, at these Olympics, media complaints are more than justified. From the shoddy accommodations to the unfinished facilities to the prehistoric state of human rights, life in Sochi is not funny; it’s not fun. It remains to be seen whether the Russians will actually pull this off.
Meanwhile, back home in New England, the return of the games has reignited a familiar debate: How would Boston fair as Olympic hosts?
On one side, there are some who believe that we’re up to the task. In fact, there’s a group — which includes big names like Robert Kraft and Mitt Romney — currently pushing a bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics.
On the flip side, there are many who think that the Boston Games would be the worst thing since unsliced bread. And let’s be honest, they’re probably right. They’re definitely right. For decades, the Olympics have left a path of tortured host cities in its wake. Communities smacked with immense debt, higher taxes and once-proud-now-abandoned Olympic villages and facilities. We don’t need that in Boston. Hell, just bring back happy hour and call it a day.
But, let’s just say that Boston did win the bid . . .
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August 4, 2024
Olympic Dreams Become A Reality for Boston
By: Rich Levine
Chief Olympic Correspondent for Teen Vogue
BOSTON, MA — Welcome to Boston. Home of the 33rd Summer Olympic Games. You know, it’s only fitting that a city with such a rich history surrounding the No. 33 would host this edition of sports' most historic event, and as you might imagine, it took a few miracles the likes of which Boston hadn’t seen since Larry Legend for the Hub to pull off this monumental feat.
But they did. And here we are. The media is settled. The athletes are trickling in. The city is ready. The world is ready. However, before the party starts, let’s remember how we got here.
Of course, as with every Olympics, Boston’s biggest hurdle was funding. The estimated $14 billion dollar price tag threatened to kill this project before it ever got off the ground. That is, until Robert Kraft, the 83-year-old former owner of the New England Patriots and current Olympic committee chairman, stepped in.
Kraft’s story is well documented. In 2019, after the duel-retirements of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, he sold the Patriots to Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov for a record $10 billion. At the time, Prokhorov was looking for a new venture after running the Brooklyn Nets into extinction. He was also completely unaware that Belichick and Brady had retired. Kraft jumped at the opportunity for a historic payday.
It killed Kraft to part with the franchise, but after 25 years of ownership, he was ready for another challenge, and the Olympics became his baby. Kraft took $7 billion from the Prokhorov deal and wired it directly into the Olympic fund.
His act of courage set off a chain reaction throughout Boston’s professional sports community. Wyc Grousbeck and John Henry each contributed $500 million to the cause. Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs contributed $10,000. David Ortiz, still going strong at 48 years old, contributed $50 million on the condition that the Red Sox “finally” step up and give him another extension. Celtics All-Star center Joel Embiid gave $10 million and promised to pay full room and board for all 40 visiting athletes from his native Cameroon.
After a few more substantial contributions from the private sector and a boatload of corporate sponsorships (Note: Officially, these are “The 2024 Boston Summer Olympics, presented by ShamWow!”) the dream was ready to become a reality.
If you’ve ever visited Boston, then you’re certainly familiar with Faneuil Hall — the city’s historic marketplace. But you’ve never seen it like this. Today, Faneuil Hall has been transformed into a state of the art Olympic Village, where the approximately 15,000 athletes will stay for the duration of their trip.
Constructing the Village wasn’t easy. It was essential that all historic components of the area remained intact, and representatives from the US Department of the Interior were on hand to make sure of it.
Ultimately, contractors built a series of 15-story high rises on top of the existing buildings. At the top of each high rise, there are numerous Klieg searchlights that shine the image of every country’s flag into the night’s sky.
It’s truly a sight to be seen.
For two weeks, all the bars in Faneuil Hall have been converted to Oxygen bars. All the gift shops are temporary yoga studios. The famed fruit and vegetable market now sells only the finest and completely undetectable performance enhancing drugs that money can buy.
The athletes will compete at a series of venues in and around the Boston area.
Gillette Stadium will play host to the soccer and field hockey games. TD Garden is home to basketball and gymnastic competitions. BU’s Agganis Arena is the place for boxing, weightlifting and wrestling. BC’s Conte Forum will house handball, table tennis and indoor volleyball.
Harvard’s Lavietes Pavilion is where you’ll find taekwondo, judo and fencing. Fenway Park’s infield has been expanded into a beach volleyball court. A temporary stadium built on Boston Common will host tennis and badminton matches, while the Public Garden is now home to an intricate equestrian course. Canoeing and rowing will take place on the Charles River, and sailing competitions will be held off the Cape.
Three major additional facilities were built for the Olympics. First, the New England Aquarium was converted into an aquatics center — which will host diving, swimming and water polo. All of the previous aquarium inhabitants were found temporary homes, except for one killer whale, who officials don’t anticipate being “that much” of a problem.
A new Velodrome for indoor cycling has be constructed at the former site of the Cambridgside Galleria mall, which went out of business after the great Amazon Drone boom of 2020.
And then there’s the centerpiece of the games.
Boston’s 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium, aka the House that Kraft Built: a revolutionary venue that was constructed atop a massive floating dock on the Charles River (using the foundation that formerly supported the Longfellow Bridge).
As you might imagine, there was endless controversy surrounding the proposed site of this stadium. Most residents never believed it would work, and more than that, didn’t want to be stuck with the monstrosity in the middle of the Charles for an eternity after the Games. But in a stirring speech at City Hall in 2021, Kraft convinced the masses to sign on — with the turning point coming with the revelation that when the Olympics are over, officials can simply unhook the stadium from the dock and allow it to float off into the Atlantic. Thanks to new technology, the stadium is fully biodegradable, and will decompose after prolonged exposure to salt water.
But not before it hosts the best damn Olympics this world has ever seen.
It begins with this weekend’s opening ceremonies and the fun won’t stop for another two weeks. Two weeks that Boston has been planning and plotting for years. Two weeks that will forever put this city on the map. Two weeks that this city is undeniably ready for.
All the highways in and out of Boston have been extended to five lanes. The revamped, double-decker, high-speed Green and Red Lines are up and running, with only three fatalities reported to date. The city has doubled the number of taxicabs, pedicabs, Ubers and Lifts. Boston’s homeless community has been unionized and will provide around the clock rickshaw service.
Travel won’t be easy, but it’s destined for success.
And so are these Olympics.
It’s been a long time coming, but the No. 33 will once again bring magic to Boston.
The city already knows it, and the rest of the world is about to find out.
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(No, but seriously. Bringing the Olympics to Boston is a horrible idea. Please let this be the closest we ever actually come to hosting.)
Follow me on Twitter: @rich_levine