Paris Pushes Ahead with Olympic Bid Despite Some Opposition
In a last ditch attempt to win the rights to host the 2024 Olympics, this past weekend the French capital of Paris was transformed into a giant Olympic park complete with a floating running track positioned directly on the Seine River. However, it doesn't seem that quite all Parisians are on board with the idea of their beloved city hosting the Olympics.
Massive protests and public outcry have already forced several potential host cities to cancel their bids. Residents of Boston, Massachusetts protested against the high costs of hosting the Olympics and the negative public opinion eventually forced organizers to throw in the towel. Similarly, Budapest's bid was derailed by a huge opposition movement "NOlympia," whose members successfully convinced the Hungarian public that hosting the Olympic Games would put their country deep into debt.
In Paris, protests have been more muted. While it is apparent that not all residents support the idea, the opposition has been much slower to mobilize and get their message out. The main opposition comes from a group known as "NO to the 202 Paris Olympics," which claims to have collected over 20,000 signatures on a petition calling for a referendum on whether the city should host the games. However, the group itself only has around 50 members and has received little to no media coverage.
Instead, the media was focused this past weekend on what a Paris Olympic Games could look like and the results were impressive to say the least. Still, this didn't stop some residents from questioning the overall costs of hosting the games and the amount of value that they would bring to the average Parisian.
The city has proposed a budget of 6.6 billion euros for the games, but many are concerned that budget overruns could drive the cost much higher. As evidence they point to the 2016 Rio Olympics, which went approximately 51% over budget.
Another issue for some residents is that all of that money will do nothing to help improve the lack of public transportation that plagues many of the city's low-income neighborhoods. Despite the numerous infrastructure projects that would be necessary to host the Olympics, none of them would benefit the residents most in need.
Despite the concerns of some residents and the calls for a referendum, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo is pushing ahead with the bid as evidenced by this past weekend's extravaganza and it looks highly unlikely that residents will get a chance to vote on the issue. Still, it remains to be seen whether this last push will be enough to see Paris secure the rights to host the games ahead of its main competitor, Los Angeles.
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