2024 Summer Olympics Bid Cities: Green is the New Gold


Welcome to Olympics Bid Week at GreenSportsBlog! Look for our post on Thursday as to whether Almaty, Kazakhstan or Beijing will offer the greener 2022 Winter Olympics. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will meet in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Friday to vote for the host city for those games. Today, we focus our gaze two years further out, to look at the sustainability plans of the cities bidding to host the 2024 Summer Olympics.

Today’s news that the US Olympic Committee (USOC) terminated Boston’s attempt to host the 2024 Summer Olympics was likely greeted with relief by many in the Bay State, per recent polling which showed the bid to be very unpopular.
This is a sad development, it says here, as the bid was innovative from a sustainability point of view:

  • Enhancements to and expansion of mass transit
  • Utilizing the city’s many universities for venues, housing and also sustainability-related brain power
  • Heavy reliance on existing facilities
  • Making the Games walkable for many fans

Yes, Boston got the sustainability portion of the bid right. Hopefully Los Angeles, rumored to step into the breach to become the USOC’s new bidder for 2024, will build on Boston 2024’s sustainability lead.Of course, the 2024 bid process will involve a number of cities outside the US. Four European cities have already put their hats in the ring.
Since “Sport and the Environment” is one of six pillars of Olympism as defined by Agenda 2020, the IOC’s new roadmap all future of Olympic host cities must follow, it is safe to assume that sustainability will be a key facet of all of the cities vying to host the 2024 Games. And, while it’s still a bit early (the vote to decide which will win the Games won’t take place until September, 2017 in Lima, Peru), there is one common thread among the announced bid cities: Going Green Means Cost Control. And that is a very good thing.
A detailed bid from Hungary’s capital city, which only officially announced its intention to enter the race to host the 2024 Summer Olympics on July 7, has not yet been published. What we do know is that the bid will have a laser focus on keeping costs low. Out-of-control costs have largely limited the IOC to select Summer Olympics host cities from among the wealthiest countries and mega-cities. Budapest’s and Hungary’s leaders want to demonstrate that smaller countries can put on a great, on-budget, sustainable Games.
Puskas Stadion Budapest

Artist rendering of renovated Puskás Stadium, Budapest. Organizers of Budapest 2024 promise to use renovated stadiums as a way of reining in costs. (Photo credit: MNSK.HU)

The environment will play a crucial role in their bid plan. This makes intuitive sense: Maximizing energy efficiency and minimizing waste are core environmental sustainability tenets that will allow Budapest 2024 organizers to keep costs low. Hungary’s small area (the bid will engage other cities beyond Budapest) and a strong existing sports facilities infrastructure would add to the greenness of an Olympics in Budapest.
Hamburg, bidding to be the first German city to host an Olympics since Munich in 1972, plans to make the Games carbon neutral. You read that right: Carbon neutral.
Easier said than done, with millions of fans and thousands of vehicles descending on Germany’s second largest city. To make carbon neutrality a reality:

  • Hamburg’s city government is strongly considering making the downtown area of the city a car-free area during the Games
  • All events will be held within 6 miles of the city center.
  • New facilities would be modular and re-useable:
    • The 70,000 seat Olympic Stadium would be scaled back to just 20,000
    • The athletes’ village would be converted into a residential housing for up to 6,000 people.

And, in a story about the Hamburg bid appearing in GamesBids.comChristoph Holstein, head of the Hamburg’s Sports Council, said that the city is “keen to ensure…environmental friendliness in the supply of materials such as floodlights, seats and ticket printing.”
Paris jumped back into the Olympics bid fray in June, looking to erase the bitter sting of barely losing out to London to host the 2012 Games. The French capital is seeking to host the Games for the first time in a century.
A la Budapest, the Paris bid is relatively new and so a detailed sustainability plan has yet to be published. Also like Budapest, Paris’ initial commitment sustainability is based on a reliance on existing infrastructure. 60-80% of Paris 2024 facilities already are up and running: Stade de France, the proposed Olympic Stadium, played host to the 1998 FIFA World Cup Final; Roland Garros, venerable home of the French Open, would host tennis.
Originally, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo was less than enthusiastic about the bid based on–you guessed it–potentially high costs. But she came around, endorsing the idea in March after a study said the city’s existing sports infrastructure will help limit outlays and make the bid greener.
Stade de France

Stade de France, site of the FIFA World Cup Final in 1998, has been tapped to host the Opening and Closing Ceremonies along with Track and Field for Paris 2024. (Photo credit: GamesBids.com)

Ironically, the Green Party was the only group in the Paris City Council that voted against going ahead with the bid, but its objections were financial in nature, not environmental.
The City of Lights, the first to formally announce a 2024 bid, hopes to host its first Olympics since 1960. And, if Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino has his way, renovated 1960 facilities will form the backbone of the 2024 Games venue lineup. According to a story in the July 17 issue of EuroNews, Marino said “We will not build cathedrals in the desert. We are not going to overbuild. We are going to develop what already exists.”
Stadio Olimpico, home of top flight soccer clubs AS Roma and Lazio, would serve as centerpiece of Rome’s 2024’s refurbished and retro-cool venues. The 1960 velodrome and rowing venue would also be used as would the Foro Italico, an iconic tennis venue (home to the Italian Open) built in 1938.
Foro Italico

Foro Italico, home of the Italian Open tennis tournament, would be upgraded for Rome 2024. (Photo credit: OurItaly.com)

Mass transit will likely see a major upgrade. Rome’s Metro system currently consists of 3 major lines (A, B, and C). A D line is in the planning stages; approval of that expansion is considered very likely if Rome wins the 2024 Summer Olympic Games.
At least 2-3 other cities may enter the 2024 mix, including Baku (Azerbaijan) and Toronto. All interested cities must formally submit their bids by September 15 of this year.

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Email us: lew@greensportsblog.com
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  1. […] for the 2022 host city but also took an early look at the burghs (Budapest, Hamburg, Paris, Rome) bidding for the 2024 Summer Games from a green perspective. On to something […]

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