Monday, June 13, 2005

bonfire of the vanities

Buried way down in the NYT coverage of the city's "saving" its Olympic 2012 bid by arranging to build a new stadium in Queens:
"Paris has long been considered the favorite to win these Games and received the best review last week by the evaluation commission, but the I.O.C. is notoriously unpredictable in voting for its host cities."
I've been following the story of New York City's Olympic bid through various American sources for months now, and I'm amazed at how systematically and radically misinformed the public is being about the chance the NYC bid has of succeeding. (This isn't just a sports story, because the Olympic bid is being used to generate public support for a subsidy worth a few hundred million dollars of taxpayer money.) When media coverage has acknowledged Paris as the favorite at all, it makes it sound like a modest favorite in a wildly unpredictable selection process. By contrast, Tradesports is currently pricing the chances of Paris getting the Olympics at over 80%, and the chances of NYC at under 5% (well behind London, which is given between a 10-13% chance). I'm not sure if it is just that New York-based media have such a sense of their city being at the center of the universe that they are in radical denial that their city could make a concerted effort to win the Olympics and still stand little chance of succeeding, or if correctly using words like "unlikely" and "longshot" to describe New York City's bid has been a "unlikely" and a "longshot" would seem some kind of betrayal of the newspaper's duty to be municipal boosters.

Next month, when the 2012 Olympic site is announced and it is not NYC, it will be interesting to see whether the entire postmortem analysis focuses on the failure to secure funding for the stadium in Manhattan, since, as far as can tell, the consensus-outside-the-US has been that the NYC bid was unlikely even if the Manhattan stadium came through. If/when Paris is the winner, it will be interesting to see if the American media gives much consideration to the possibility that NYC's losing the Olympics didn't even have that much to do with anything that NYC did and didn't do, but instead was mainly due to the strength and enthusiasm of Paris's efforts.


Anonymous said...

One also wonders whether the extent of anti-American sentiment among IOC voters had a substantial effect. I would imagine that very few voters from Europe or the Middle East would vote for NYC, even if its bid was the greatest of all time.

jeremy said...

I don't know the particulars of IOC composition, but it certainly seems plausible. Except I think the Parisian momentum has been in the works for a long time. Paris was one of the finalists in 2008 and was third in the voting.

Anonymous said...

Does that mean we'll see NYC 2016 in the next four year?

Anonymous said...

As someone who just spent a week in NYC for NCORE, I am thrilled to hear this prediction. It would seem to me (through my rosy paid-hotel-food-budget-to-dine-out-on-conference-going perspective)that the LAST thing manhattan needs is a giant stadium! And I would imagine, that while a street fair popping up on 7th ave right in front of our hotel may have been a fabulous addition to my leisurely day, for those who needed to actually GET somewhere in the vicinity it was met with much chagrin. I can only imagine the many multiples of this chagrin the Olympics would enliven...I simply can't understand why ANY city wants this! --Elizabeth

Anonymous said...

Well, how about the millions of dollars in revenue from tourists. All those people have to eat, sleep, shop somewhere.