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Will Boston Olympics Bring Crime and Corruption?

Boston has recently won the United States Olympic Committee's (USOC) vote to be the official choice for the country's bid in the 2024 Olympic games. Boston residents run the spectrum between avid supporters and vocal opponents. By looking to past Olympic games, some worry that cost overrides, financial fraud, and safety concerns may mark the Olympic legacy. 

A recent NPR radio poll found support for Boston Olympics less than stellar. According toWBUR, Boston's public radio station, when asked whether they were "excited" about Boston hosting the Olympics, 48 percent said yes, while 43 percent said no. About 50 percent support the Olympic games in Boston, while 33 percent oppose the games. However, a clearer majority of three-quarters of residents said they should get to vote on whether the Boston area should host the 2024 games.

Proponents voiced support for the games' positive impact on updating infrastructure, spending in the local economy, increased tourism, as well as a chance for Boston to show how wonderful a city it is to live in and visit. But just as soon as the announcement was made, opponents came out against a 2024 Boston bid. NoBostonOlympics.com has voiced their reasons for not supporting the games. Primarily based on financial reasons, opponents cite cost overruns, taxpayer liability, and lack of positive impact on the local economy as reasons not to rely on Boston2024's optimism.

The games are projected to cost approximately $4.5 billion, which officials say would come from private donations, television rights, corporate sponsorship, and ticketing. Although London's 2012 Olympics were estimated to cost about the same, and ended up being more than four times that amount. In Russia, the recent Sochi winter Olympics ended up being the most costly in history. However, much of that $51 billion ended up being siphoned off in deals involving corruption and cronyism.

Another concern for an upcoming Boston Olympics is safety. Safety has been a major concern threatening the next Olympics in Brazil. The U.S. State Department has assessed the crime rate in Brazil as "critical" for the past 25 straight years. In response, Rio has expanded their police force, and seen a recent decrease in the murder rate. However, other crimes such as car theft and muggings have seen a worrying rise recently.

Of course, Boston is not plagued with the crime rates of Rio de Janeiro, but neither was London. London actually saw a decrease in homicides in a lead up to their 2012 Olympics, to a 30-year low. However, pickpocketing increased 17 percent in the two years prior. Anticipating the sneaky thefts, officials hired a team of Romanian police officers to help them deal with the problem. Perhaps as a result of the ramped up police presence, crime in London went down 6 percent overall from the year before.

All of this speculation about how Boston will be impacted by the coming 2024 Olympic games remains speculation. While the USOC has selected Boston as their official choice, it is still up to the International Olympic Committee to make their choice, contending with other possible candidates. The host will not be announced until 2017, leaving Boston in limbo along with Rome, Italy; Doha, Qatar; Brisbane, Australia and other potential host cities.

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