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Volume 26 No. 201

Olympics

Dempsey believes that cities should have substantive debates about the pros and cons of Olympic bids
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Dempsey believes that cities should have substantive debates about the pros and cons of Olympic bids
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Dempsey believes that cities should have substantive debates about the pros and cons of Olympic bids
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The IOC has invited two prominent American critics of the Olympics to speak at its first Olympism in Action forum starting this Friday in Buenos Aires: Chris Dempsey, the cofounder of the political group No Boston Olympics that helped defeat the Boston '24 Olympic bid, and Andrew Zimbalist, a Smith College economist who has written extensively on the financial dangers of hosting the Games. Involving those two is a notable development for the IOC, which has started to deal more directly with critics as interest in hosting the Games wanes in western countries. “My decision to accept the IOC's invitation to join a panel at the Olympism in Action forum is consistent with our belief that cities should have real, substantive debates about the pros and cons of an Olympic bid,” Dempsey said. “The more conversation the better.” But Dempsey added, "The extension of conference invitations to skeptics like me and Professor Andrew Zimbalist should not be construed as substantive change by the IOC.” He called again on the IOC to drop the demand for a government guarantee of cost overruns at the Games. The forum is the IOC’s first attempt to convene a major gathering, akin to the World Economic Forum, where attendees discuss broad global trends in sports. About 1,600 guests are expected. Zimbalist said: “Why wouldn't I accept? It falls during the Fall break, so I can do it in my teaching schedule. I am always open to discussing my ideas and to learning from others.” Other than Dempsey and Zimbalist, the IOC has invited more conventional speakers as well, including '02 Salt Lake Games Organizing Committee COO Fraser Bullock, NBC President of Olympics Production & Programming Jim Bell, LA ’28 Chair Casey Wasserman and former American IOC member Angela Ruggerio.