Following the disastrous planning and implementation of the Rio Summer Games, anti-Olympics activism has become as much a part of games as the running of the torch. From Boston to Budapest, from Hamburg to Toronto, residents in host countries have risen up and rejected the Olympic Games. Starting on Monday, May 8, there’s a new anti-Olympics group on the block: NOlympics LA.
Jonny Coleman, an organizer with NOlympics LA, told The Nation, “We oppose the bid on principle. The process is inherently undemocratic and does not take into account the needs of the host city’s residents beyond those who are already rich and powerful, and stand to become even more so from the Games.”
NOlympics LA hopes to raise awareness of the negative effects that the 2024 Olympics could have on everyday Angelenos, with specific messages aimed at the International Olympic Committee. Olympic Committee Co-organizer Anne Orchier told us, “We don’t need to hand over the keys to our city to the IOC, who have proven time and time again that their only interest is in razing cities for their own profit.”
The group’s launch is strategically timed. On Wednesday, a delegation of officials from the International Olympic Committee will jet into Los Angeles for an official visit. The IOC’s Evaluation Commission will hobnob with LA 2024 bigwigs, tour prospective venues, and swig from syrupy presentations that claim staging the 2024 Games in Los Angeles would be an endless parade of rainbows, unicorns, and California sunsets.
In truth these commission visits are fastidiously scripted affairs for friendly media photo-ops. For IOC members they may be as much about figuring out their future vacation destination as discerning the merits of Games bids. In a sense, the visit is a foretaste of the junket of all junkets: the Olympic Games themselves.
After visiting Los Angeles this week, the IOC Evaluation Commission will travel to Paris for a similar stopover. The group will then return to its palatial accommodations in Lausanne, Switzerland, and write a report based on these visits that’s slated for public release in July. Then, in September, IOC will convene in Lima, Peru, to select a host for the 2024 Olympics.
Let’s be clear: Anti-Games activism absolutely matters. We have seen in recent years that only when cities reject the the games, does the International Olympic Committee speak about reform. At the very least, the IOC takes public opinion into consideration when casting its votes.
The 2024 Olympics initially had five bidders. But then a strong anti-Games campaign in Hamburg derailed that city’s bid. In Rome, Mayor Virginia Raggi was elected on an anti-Olympics platform, and once in office, she wasted no time in yanking the bid. Then, the NOlimpia movement in Hungary torpedoed the Budapest bid where the mere threat of a referendum was enough for boosters to pull the plug.