With the Sochi Winter Games having wrapped up less than a week ago, discussion among followers of Olympics-related news has turned to the bidding process for the 2024 Summer Games. As one might predict, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has launched a full-on campaign to bring the Olympics back to America. The US hasn’t hosted a Summer Olympics since Atlanta 1996, with the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in 2002 marking the last time the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has chosen to honor an American bid.
Chicago was the most recent U.S. city to have a serious Olympic bid turned down, as the IOC opted in 2009 for Rio de Janeiro as hosts for the 2016 Olympics. There is plenty of speculation that the IOC’s “snub” of the USOC bid was the result of a longstanding feud between the two organizations over revenue sharing, a disagreement that was finally resolved in 2012. With that discord having been put aside, the USOC is newly optimistic about bringing the Olympics back to America, and have approached a number of cities as they flesh out possible candidates for a bid for the 2024 games ahead of the IOC vote in 2017. Although the list of metropolitan areas includes “obvious” contenders like Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, a surprising candidate has emerged.
The city of San Diego has been approached by USOC organizers as a potential Olympics site. Located in close proximity to Mexico, the city previously explored the option of launching a joint bid with the neighboring metropolis of Tijuana, although that idea failed to pass muster with the IOC. The Committee frowns on international bids, but the San Diego Olympic organizing committee has since “redone” their pitch to host the games solely in the city and the surrounding areas. Although, as a native San Diegan, yours truly is a slightly biased commentator. But the idea of a San Diego Olympics certainly has some compelling merits which mean it can’t be dismissed out-of-hand. For one, the city has already hosted relatively large-scale sporting events, most notably the PGA’s U.S. Open and several Super Bowls.
Although those pale in terms of scope when compared with the Olympics, those successes should help convince neutral observers that, far from being a provincial town in LA’s shadow, San Diego has the qualities to stand by itself as a potential host. The city’s status as a popular tourist destination means that hotels, roads, and other key infrastructures are already largely in place, and would require relatively less investment to bring things up to Olympic host-worthy standards. Apart from the proximity to Mexico, San Diego is also quite ethnically diverse and has a cosmopolitan, international feel that should prove welcoming to visitors descending on the city from around the world.
Of course, this is all without taking into account San Diego’s most obvious strength, a climate that brings plenty of sunshine and pleasant weather year-round and would allow the city to effectively host the whole range of athletic events on the Olympic slate. The miles of beach, for instance, would be a fine venue for sailing, beach volleyball, and similar. The San Diego Convention Center, which plays host annually to the chaos of Comic-Con, could easily hold a variety of indoor events ranging from gymnastics to boxing to fencing. Although public transport in the region is still uneven, San Diego remains less of a headache-inducing sprawl than, for example, Los Angeles, and it would take relatively little investment to make the existing system capable of shuttling spectators between event venues.
Of course, the fact remains that a San Diego Olympic Games is still very much a pipe dream, and the organizing committee will likely have to answer many doubts before they are considered serious candidates for the USOC bid. Still, the idea is not as crazy as it sounds, and this San Diegan, for one, will keep his fingers crossed that our city will show the rest of the world (or at the rest of the nation) its best possible side.