Tonight in London, the world’s greatest (and most expensive) traveling circus makes
its return with a $14.5 billion tab. The Summer Olympics has grown into a palatial
spectacle, with host cities adopting a “no budget, no boundaries” anthem that the
International Olympics Committee enthusiastically applauds. While Washington has bid
to host the Olympics in the past, a successful bid still seems a long way off. How
would it compare to events Washington is used to hosting? Transportation-wise and
venue-wise, obviously, there’d be a tremendous amount of work to do, but visitor-wise,
it’d actually be relatively manageable. Although the exact total is still unknown,
it appears London will likely host 600,000 visitors for the Olympics this summer.
In 2009, DC hosted a record-breaking 1.8 million people for
President Barack Obama’s inauguration on the National Mall;
President George W. Bush’s second inauguration, meanwhile, brought somewhere in the neighborhood of 400,000
to 500,000. Ultimately, our 106,051 metropolitan hotel rooms is only a few thousand
short of London’s total.