MIT is being considered as a possible venue for hosting sporting events during the 2024 Summer Olympic Games, which the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) announced Thursday would be held in Boston if the United States is chosen to be the host country.
MIT Executive Vice President and Treasurer Israel Ruiz SM ’01 serves as one of four co-chairs of the Boston 2024 College and University Engagement Committee, which is working on incorporating universities in Massachusetts into Boston’s 2024 Olympic Plan. “I hope we can coordinate within MIT to understand what opportunities this could bring,” said Ruiz in an interview with The Tech.
Boston 2024, the group planning Boston’s Olympic bid, is considering MIT as a possible host for archery and fencing competitions. MIT has offered Killian Court as a venue for archery, as well as Briggs Field and Rockwell Cage as potential venues for other athletic events. Ruiz said that Boston 2024 is “looking for venues that are representative of Boston, Cambridge, and surrounding communities,” and that they are “looking for some sort of an emblematic venue.”
According to an article in the Boston Globe, Olympic planners are considering several other universities as potential venues, including Harvard for field hockey; Boston University for basketball, rugby, and field hockey; and UMASS Boston for the Olympic Village. Other proposed venues include Boston Harbor for sailing, Boston Common for beach volleyball, and TD Garden for basketball.
Ruiz notes that plans for security and crowd accommodation for events hosted by MIT will be a collaborative effort between Olympic planners and MIT: “MIT would have a major say in the security,” Ruiz said.
Ruiz is hoping to broaden MIT’s involvement in the Olympic planning process by involving faculty and students who are interested in planning for and potentially developing technology for the Olympic Games. Part of this involvement is already being discussed: Professor Carlo Ratti in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning aims to work with Boston 2024 to propose infrastructure improvements that could enable all venues to be accessible by walking or by public transportation. According to Ruiz, one of the main appeals of the Boston area as a venue for the Olympics is the closeness of all of the different sporting venues.
Ruiz said that the transportation upgrades in the area would be one of the ways that the Olympics would benefit the MIT community. According to Ruiz, increased capacity on the Red Line would be among these upgrades. Additionally, the Boston Globe wrote that constructing additional platforms at South Station, which has been a proposed project for a decade, as well as a new Commuter Rail Station in Allston might be among other transportation improvements.
Transportation upgrades are “another element in which [the MIT community] will also participate: there is faculty interest in shaping how transportation gets improved,” Ruiz said.
USOC chose Boston as the US’s bid among four applicant cities, but in order for Boston to actually host the Olympics, the International Olympic Committee must choose it from among other countries’ bids, of which only Italy’s bid, Rome, has been finalized. The process of selecting the host city is a two-and-a-half-year process, which gives the selected city seven years to prepare.
Ruiz seeks to be transparent about MIT’s role in the selection process as it unfolds in the coming years, as well as engage the MIT community in the effort to optimize Boston’s bid, and if chosen, host the Olympic Games. Though it is too early to know the details of the process that will take place between now and 2017, Ruiz said that “we will maintain engagement and dialogue as the process unfolds.” Ruiz hopes to bring a sense of “excitement and community about what the Olympic movement means in the context of an educational setting like ours.”