Before you laugh at the idea of real live Summer Olympic events being held in Fairfax County just 11 short years from now, as part of the “D.C. 2024″ bid to host The Games, consider these items:
1) The backers of D.C. 2024 say that this region has more state-of-the-art sports infrastructure in a 40-mile radius than any other U.S. city, to include the Patriot Center arena and other facilities at George Mason University;
2) Fairfax is going to host the 2015 World Police and Fire Games, an Olympic-style competition involving 7,000 public safety professionals from around the world in a wide variety of events, which officials think will be a stellar opportunity to showcase our hosting capabilities; and
3) We have a lot of people and a lot of money here in the State of NoVa, well able to fund or receive funding to build new natatoriums or velodromes which will then benefit the masses after the Olympians move on. We might even get some new infrastructure out of it.
Fairfax supervisors Sharon Bulova and Pat Herrity met with the exploratory committee for D.C. 2024 last week to offer the county’s support, county officials said. Indeed, there are 15 different shooting events in the Summer Olympics alone, involving rifles and pistols and skeet, and you can’t have those in D.C., right? (There actually used to be “running deer” shooting events in the Olympics in the early 1900s, which Northern Virginia might like to reinstate.)
“I think it’s great for the region and great for Fairfax County,” Herrity said. “It brings exposure, and if it’s done correctly it brings a lot of return on investment, for things like infrastructure, tourism and recognition.” Herrity and others said improvements, possibly for roads or mass transit, could benefit the area after the games departed.
Bulova and fellow Supervisor Michael Frey both traveled to Belfast earlier this month to watch the 2013 World Police and Fire Games and see what to expect for Fairfax. Calgary and Barcelona also hosted the Police and Fire Games prior to hosting the Olympics.
“You get positive press coverage around the world,” Frey said. “So many perceptions are created around the world by forces we don’t control. The opportunity to bring the world to your doorstep and say, ‘This is what we are, who we are,’ you don’t get too many opportunities like that.” And reminding folks that Fairfax has a population of 1.1 million and is the second wealthiest county per capita in the U.S.
You’ll be hearing a lot more about the World Police and Fire Games over the next two years as Fairfax and surrounding areas ramp up to host not only the standard Olympic events like track and field and swimming but also Toughest Competitor Alive, Ultimate Firefighter, Mountain Running and Darts. Sounds like fun. In fact, Fairfax County police officers Mike Tucker and Mark Kidd won the “501″ darts gold medal, and Fairfax firefighter Sam Gray won a silver medal in 2000-meter indoor rowing and bronze in 8K mountain running. Venues in Northern Virginia will include the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston, the NRA shooting range in Fairfax, the regional parks at Bull Run and Pohick Bay, and Pev’s Paintball in Aldie.
Also traveling to Belfast was new Fairfax County police Chief Edwin Roessler Jr. “The biggest thing I learned,” he said, “from their police chief Judith Gillespie: Volunteers. They had 3,400 volunteers,” in red shirts at the airport and train station, at all traffic corridors heading to the venues. He hopes the Fairfax police and fire departments can round up equally large numbers of volunteers in 2015, and run a smooth event in hopes of showcasing the county for the athletes, their families and the local community.
A nonprofit group called “DC 2024” has formed to explore a possible Olympic bid for Washington, and its officials did not return inquiries about Fairfax’s potential involvement. The group must first win the backing of the U.S. Olympic Committee, which will select its host city nominee for the 2024 games in September 2015, about a month after the Police and Fire Games end in Fairfax. The International Olympic Committee will then decide in 2017 which city will host the 2024 Olympics and Paralympics.