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Washington Might Be Named the United States’ Bid City for the 2024 Olympics This Month

The US Olympic Committee is expected to make its choice in the next two weeks.
One of these cities will be submitted to the International Olympic Committee. Image via US Olympic Committee.

Consider yourself warned: The push to bring the Summer Olympics to Washington is kicking into high gear this week as organizers of the bid anticipate the United States Olympic Committee’s decision for a 2024 bid city, pitting us against Boston, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Officially, the USOC has said it does not plan to make its pick until early 2015, but members of the Washington bid’s steering committee have told Washingtonian they expect a decision in the next two weeks.

Despite the Olympics’ singular ability to turn even the most progressive city activists into outraged NIMBYs, the bid’s boosters are promising Washington a ton of stuff besides two weeks of international sport. Improved transportation between Washington and Baltimore! Finally tearing down RFK Stadium and erecting an Olympic stadium in its place! (With a post-Games tenant waiting in the wings.) New housing from an Olympic village that would be built in Southeast DC!

Washington’s bid for the 2024 Olympics is being modeled on the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, with the DC group seeing similarities between the investment of London’s East End and the potential effects of building Olympic housing and venues east of the Anacostia River. One critical detail where the Washington vision diverges from the London experience is on cost: Local Olympic hopefuls say hosting the Games here will cost between $4 billion and $5 billion; London’s expenses, including significant infrastructure improvements, eventually topped $14 billion.

“This is a catalytic event for Ward 7 and Ward 8,” says Jim Dinegar, the chief executive of the Greater Washington Board of Trade and one of the bid’s organizers. Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, who’s also the vice chairman of Washington 2024, even said “Washington, DC, needs the Olympics more than the Olympics need Washington, DC.”

And don’t think the Olympics would just be DC’s burden. There are a lot of potential venues in the suburbs, including, perhaps, gymnastics at the University of Maryland, swimming in Arlington, equestrian sports in Fauquier County, and sailing in Annapolis.

So expect a lot of Olympic boosting over the next few weeks. Heck, the Washington 2024 group even made this new video featuring scads of local notables, national politicians, and ordinary residents endorsing the Olympic bid. The phrase “this town” is uttered no fewer than seven times. (Somebody should notify Mark Leibovich.) If you’re pro-Olympics, you’ll probably just join the #ThisTown gaggle unironically. But if you’re against it, here’s a list of folks you can blame in case Washington does get the bid:

  • Virginia Senator Tim Kaine
  • DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton
  • Virginia Senator Mark Warner
  • Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson
  • Maryland Representative Elijah Cummings
  • Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich
  • Washington Wizards guard John Wall
  • Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal
  • Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean
  • Proof chef Haidar Karoum
  • DC Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser
  • Former Senator Bob Dole
  • Ben’s Chil Bowl proprietor Nizam Ali

If we missed anyone, feel free to point out their names in the comments.

Remember, though, even if you’re screaming against the Olympics, the upcoming decision only determines which US city will vie against other cities around the globe, with the International Olympic Committee awarding the 2024 Games in 2017.

Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.

Social media image by Flickr user yaokcool.

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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.