In support of Boston 2024

Colleagues in many of Boston’s universities and colleges are working on Boston’s submission to the US Olympic Committee. Boston hopes to win the nomination to become a candidate city for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Even if in a minor way, I have tried to be of some help.

In doing a bit, I hope, to inform a few elements of the Boston submission I went back in time. Just briefly I re-lived the efforts of London Higher first, in contributing to the London bid to host the 2012 Games, and second, through our special interest division Podium, in supporting the Games itself. What a blast it was!

London Higher began supporting the London 2012 bid team in 2003. We did so largely to the amusement of national HE organisations and most HEIs outside London. The vast majority either considered we and our member group were wasting our (self-funded) time – believing perhaps that tangible HE value to an Olympic bid would be slight, and more fundamentally that Paris would win anyway. If the first was inaccurate then how wildly inaccurate was the second!

Just as London Higher had been a ‘one stop shop’ communications portal with London HEIs during the bid phase, so our Podium unit- funded with support in particular from HEFCE – filled a vital role in channelling communications from LOCOG (London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games) to universities and also FE colleges nationally.

Podium actually delivered so much more than we had originally envisaged. For instance: enabling LOCOG to reach out to both the HE and FE sectors; promoting opportunities that were often not sport-centred but simply inspired by the spirit of the Games; showcasing the many marvellous Games-related achievements and projects fostered by institutions of all sizes and mission types; engaging with students directly through a variety of projects; encouraging amazing volunteering efforts (not only as ‘Games Makers’ but in local community endeavours) by staff and students alike; and overall truly helping to make it a Games for the nation as well as for London.

There were some very specific contributions too, such as developing the prospectus through which LOCOG promoted to the world the credentials institutions wishing to host training camps; creating the Games Experts database to help the world’s media access specialist advisers over the entire summer, and managing competitions through which institutions and individual students could become involved in official ceremonies and functions.

Then, during Games time, Podium was able to assist LOCOG late-on with extra ticketing allocations for students to some of the early events where seat sales had been low. And of course there were the daily bulletins and updates, and the medal table that followed the successes of students and alumni of our institutions.

There was so much more too – this is just a mild taster. All in all the range of accomplishments were incredible.  Podium was a unique operation to match a unique opportunity. Did I have withdrawal symptoms one the Games were over and Podium started to wind-down? Oh yes.

So, to colleagues in Boston I know your city could stage a fantastic Games. Fingers crossed that the initial selection goes your way, and that you get the chance to support a full-blown US bid for Boston to host the 2024 Games. There will be other good candidate cities of course, maybe a ‘strong favourite’ (like Paris was). But just the London HEIs did back in 2003-6, hold to a vision and be determined never to let it be said that the cities universities and colleges had not done their part. Who knows where it all might lead!