Bring the Olympics back to the Lou
Ever since my family made it a nightly activity to watch the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, I’ve been enthralled with the Olympics. There’s not a single event in the world that could bring together as many various peoples and cultures to form a single, cohesive marathon of athletic prowess and national pride as the Olympics. And even though this is the first Olympics that I haven’t camped out in my family’s living room to watch night and day, I have still been following it religiously.
At the intersection of all the Olympic hype, we find the host city—an ever-present force that unifies the wide range of talents and cultures meeting on their turf. Not only do the host cities help sculpt the Olympic Games, but the Olympic Games also help to sculpt the host city. A massive and relentless number of funds and interests flood the cities as they prepare to welcome the world. For this reason, I propose that St. Louis enter the Olympic bidding for the Summer Games of 2020.
If we were to host the Olympics, it would be the first time in 116 years that the world’s focus was channeled through “The Lou.” Because, let’s be honest, the past century for St. Louis has been pretty lackluster. But I don’t blame it on the city itself; it’s just hard to top hosting both the World’s Fair and the Summer Olympics in the same year. It’s fairly obvious why hosting the Olympics would be beneficial to St. Louis—international attention, fiscal and technical support from around the world, and new Olympic athletic complexes. Not so obvious, however, is the reason why St. Louis would be beneficial to the Olympics.
First, if the International Olympic Committee’s decision to host the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro over Chicago (even with the lobbying of President Obama and Oprah Winfrey) is any indication of what the committee members are looking for in a host city, it’s that they want different, unexpected host cities. And St. Louis can fit that criterion. We’re not the flashiest of cities in the United States, but St. Louis does foster a unique citywide character. Centered around the Arch, St. Louis is constantly bringing attention back to its historical importance as the Gateway to the West. Additionally, the fact that St. Louis hosted the Olympics well over a century ago reinforces the city’s position as a historical landmark (both nationally and internationally). After all, every Wash. U. student knows that the first Olympics in the western hemisphere were played on Francis Field.
But it’s not only St. Louis’ character that makes it a viable Olympic city. The pragmatic aspects of the city also make it a prime location to host the Summer Games. After the completion of the reconstruction of Interstate 64, it’s apparent that traveling anywhere in St. Louis is both quick and easy. Also, unlike most cities vying for the Olympic nod, St. Louis has ample ground to build more recreational complexes and hotels. Either in the counties of St. Louis (all about 30 minutes from the Arch), or in brownfields in need of renovation, it would be fairly easy to find space to host the world. Plus, we all know that Forest Park is one of the largest urban parks in America (“It’s even larger than Central Park,” say the student tour guides). Not to mention that St. Louis is one of the cheapest cities in America. The list could go on…
So even though Chicago lost its shot to host the 2016 Olympics, St. Louis still has a chance in the future. We don’t offer the same amenities as a larger, more modernized city, but that’s what makes the possibility of the Olympics in St. Louis so great. What we lack in volume, we more than make up for in character and room to grow.
Luke is a freshman in Arts & Sciences. He can be reached via e-mail [email protected]