News & Politics

Washington Group Will Make Bid for 2024 Summer Olympics

Could DC host the biggest sporting event in the known universe? A new organizing committee says yes.

With representation in every major professional sports league (and plenty of less-than-major leagues), Washington’s reputation as a serious sports town is hardly in doubt. But could it play host to the biggest athletic behemoth of them all?

A newly formed group will attempt to bring the 2024 Summer Olympics to the nation’s capital (and surrounding area, considering the massive infrastructural needs). The Associated Press reports that the bid committee, DC2024, will pursue bringing the world’s biggest sporting event here.

The US Olympic Committee invited Washington and 34 other cities to present bids for the 2024 Olympiad back in February. Besides the DC group, there are serious efforts underway in Los Angeles, which hosted the Olympics in 1932 and 1984, Philadelphia, and Tulsa, Okla. (Yes, Tulsa.)

But as Bob Sweeney, the head of the Greater Washington Sports Alliance who is heading up DC 2024, tells the AP, Washington might be the US city most equipped to handle an influx of hundreds of thousands of athletes, coaches, media professionals, vendors, and spectators who would swarm to an Olympic site:

“We are the safest and most secure city in the world,” said Bob Sweeney, president of DC 2024. “The largest expense of any Olympic Games is security, and the fact that we’ve got it pretty built in to our everyday life here in Washington, we would leverage that asset tremendously to put on this high-profile event.”

Sounds optimistic, but Sweeney’s estimate that it would cost between $3.5 billion and $6 billion for Washington to host the Olympics seems low compared to recent events. London, which hosted last year’s Summer Olympics, spent $14 billion, half of which went to transportation. Organizers also had to clear out nearly 800 acres of East London to make room for event venues, athletes’ housing, and other attractions.

Sweeney tells the AP that Washington already has much of the infrastructure in place, but one thing that would have to be built would be an Olympic stadium. While many Olympic stadiums go underused following their Games, one in DC could be converted for NFL use when Dan Snyder’s lease on FedEx Field expires in 2026, thus satisfying a long-held dream of many District officials of bringing professional football back into city limits.

The International Olympic City will pick the host city for the 2024 Summer Olympics in 2017. Until then, start figuring out how much to charge for your couch on Airbnb, or whatever lodging application we’re using in 2024.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.