Should Atlanta bid on the 2024 Olympics? “No,” says Andrew Young

“We have other things we need to do that are going to command our attention,” says the former mayor and 1996 Games leader


The Associated Press reports today that the U.S. Olympic Committee sent letters to thirty-five big city mayors—Atlanta’s Kasim Reed among them—asking if they might be interested in hosting the 2024 Summer Games.

So, should Atlanta, the last U.S. city to host the summer games, toss its hat back into those Olympic rings? “No,” said Andrew Young, who helped bring the Games here in 1996, emphatically. “In the first place, I don’t feel like going through it again, and I don’t imagine anyone from 1996 will. It’s a ten-year commitment.”

Young, the former mayor who co-led Atlanta’s bid efforts with Billy Payne, said: “We have other things we need to do that are going to command our attention—transportation, water resources. There are a lot of problems we need to take care of.”

That said, “Hosting the Olympics is good for any city,” said Young. Serving as host raised Atlanta’s profile, generated goodwill, boosted the local and regional economy, and produced long-term infrastructure improvements like Centennial Park and Turner Field. “Everyone benefited, from hotels to businesses. Well, everyone but the AJC; they treated it as a negative. But let’s not pick on them.”

Young, mentor to Reed, said that he’d never ask our current mayor to pursue the Games. “It’s not something you ask someone to do. It’s such a long commitment. In the same way I wouldn’t advise someone to become a preacher or a politician. It’s like a religious calling.”

That said, if Reed did feel called, Young would offer advice, as he would to the mayor of any U.S. city, he said. The private-sector, nonprofit model used by Atlanta and L.A. is the only way to host the Games in his book. “We didn’t use any taxpayer money. In fact, we gave money back to the government,” he said. “It didn’t cost people who live here a thing.”

“Atlantans don’t remember that now; otherwise they wouldn’t complain about the new dome,” he said. “The dome would pay for itself and generate opportunity for all of us.”

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  • Mandy

    That sounds very healthy. He’s not creating a situation where there is pressure, and giving Reed full freedom to make a decision. Personally, I would like to see Atlanta have another Olympics here. The movie business is coming more and more to Atlanta and developing infrastructure here, and having another Olympics here would be just that more enabling long-term for this area, provided the city handles it with the same savvy they did last time. Atlanta is a gorgeous amazing city I’m happy to live in and I want the whole country to see just how amazing it is. If the last Olympics did some of that, then another one could really put Atlanta out there.
    I however would like to see these ridiculous metal plates all over the place be either inset INTO the asphalt instead of sitting on top of it, or the spots they’re covering be fixed. That’s practical and important. I would also like to see more people taking advantage of the MARTA lines, but until people actually try it out and see the advantages, the number of people using it isn’t going to change. I think anyone who complains about not having enough time to get exercise should use the MARTA lines if they’re within a half mile from their office between the metro station they disembark at and their office destination.