Olympics 2012: Why Paris over New York

The campaign for who will get the honor to host the Olympics in 2012 is a tightly contested race.  New York City made its pitch in February when members of the International Olympic Committee arrived in New York for an actual occular inspection and the formal presentation of the Bloomberg administration pitch.  One of the newspapers I read at that time said one of the supposed benefits were that the Olympics would bring in an estimated $12 Billion after the city spends $7 Billion.  Not a bad deal — and considering I live in New York City, I am naturally thrilled by the prospect of having THE Olympics help in my backyard.  Sure, why not!  New York City has a shot.. New York should get it!   It is, after all, touted as one of the most vibrant cities of the world.

Then I saw Paris — purportedly the frontrunner in the 5-city race.   (Madrid, Moscow and London are also pitching for the same honor.)  Despite my own selfish wish to have New York City win the honor to host the 2012 Olympics, I give my vote to Paris.

First, they already have much of the existing infrastructure.  I saw where the Olympic village (or one of it — their proposal is to build two villages) would be situated, not far from the airport where there are other residential buildings already.  I saw at least 2 of their many stadiums which probably only need refurbishing to accommodate the 2012 events.  Anything yet to be built makes them stand on equal footing with New York City — but it’s really the small things that caught my eye.

Aesthetically, the streets of Paris are cleaner and better maintained than New York’s.  In terms of transportation, their buses, trains and metro are cleaner and newer.  Although you don’t have the “downtown” and “uptown” distinction between routes, the routes are easy to understand and were easily navigable for a first time visitor like me.

The streets of Paris have been set up and exude a beauty that seems to constantly impress.  From the intricate artwork on their lamp posts to their well built and advertising efficient newstands, you can see how Paris on an ordinary day gets the “wow” effect — and it makes me wonder what more when the big day arrives and they welcome the world to their doorstep?

Forget that majority of the French do not speak English — I imagine that save for New York City and London, the same holds true for Madrid and Moscow.  Besides, part of the fun of being in Paris is hearing the French speak their beautiful language.

If the International Olympic Committee does give it to Paris, it means I will be watching the Olympics from my living room, but I will feel good remembering how in February 2005, I made up my mind that the French deserved to have their moment over the New York I love.