By Steven Malanga –
On July 6, 2005, Londoners celebrated in Trafalgar Square as giant television screens carried the announcement by the International Olympic Committee that the city had won the right to host the 2012 Summer Olympics. Back in New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg apologized to America because his city’s bid to host those games, which Bloomberg had pursued ardently, fell short.
Bloomberg had argued that the games would provide the money and political impetus to transform New York through a giant building program that would include not only new sports facilities but also a host of related projects such as new housing and transit. New Yorkers, however, were skeptical and in polls gave thumbs down to the centerpiece of the city’s Olympics bid, a $1.6 billion domed stadium on the West Side of Manhattan. Popular opposition in New York helped devalue the bid in Olympic circles.
Much has changed in the world since the summer of 2005, but the London Olympics have arrived in predictable fashion. Like other Olympic Games in the modern era, they’ve cost far more than the politicians and organizers predicted, and they are generating far less of an economic boost than supporters projected. There may never be a good time for the kind of fiscal folly that the Olympics visits on its host cities and countries, but right now is just about as bad as it can get.