US Olympic Committee Just A Big Bunch Of (Eerily Identical) Haters

As Planet Earth prepares for this year’s Summer Olympics — opening ceremonies are this Friday night, which gives you just two days to forget and accidentally make dinner plans — Philadelphia’s thoughts turn to itself. More specifically, we think of our own tenuous potential as a host city for the 2024 Summer Olympics. Remember when we were still campaigning for 2016? (Damn you, Rio De Janeiro.) At any rate, regardless of the (im)possibility, the U.S. Olympic Committee is not taking chances with our fair city.

Just ask Athens Voulgaridis, owner of the Greek Eatery Formerly Known As Olympic Gyro at the Reading Terminal Market. According to, last month, Mr. Voulgaridis received a cease-and-desist e-mail from the USOC which demanded the removal of the word “Olympic” from his restaurant. It may sound insane, but it’s also perfectly legal; under a 1978 law granted by Congress, the US Olympic Committee retains the exclusive rights to “all commercial use of Olympic imagery and terminology in the nation,” which includes the word itself as well as the symbol of five interlocked rings. Despite the fact that Voulgaridis’ family bought the shop in 1984, this is the first time he’s been made aware of the law, — and, oh, right, his people invented the fucking Olympics — he has respectfully chosen to alter the name from “Olympic Gyro” to “Olympia Gyro.” But that doesn’t mean he’s happy about it.

Yet the hoopla over something as seemingly inconsequential as the name of Olympic Olympia Gyro shouldn’t make Philadelphia too hopeful of our chances. More on this after the jump.

According to a former City employee who spoke with us, in a meeting several years ago, the US Olympics Committee’s delegates — four unnaturally similar Winklevoss types — were perfectly pleasant in the face of our evident delusion. Apparently, the notion that Philadelphia could have the requisite funds, space, and fame to make a serious bid to host the Games in 2016, was… cute. Forget building stadiums — where would we put the athletes? The Olympic Village (hundreds of temporary apartments/residences set up for the visiting athletes) would have to be sports complex-adjacent, and would that location really be putting the city’s best foot forward? As for funding…well, at the time, even the City wasn’t entirely sure where that would come from, either.

Up until then, states the former employee, the City felt optimistic about Philadelphia’s chances for 2016, but the entire meeting with the USOC felt like a courtesy. Why? Because their bottom line was this: Philadelphia, said the not-Winklevosses, simply lacks the international recognition to host the Olympics. Frankly, and this may just be hometown pride speaking, we can’t quite comprehend how Philadelphia — a city that boasts “The Birthplace of America” among many nicknames — lacks the international recognition of, say, Lake Placid (a two-time host) or the prestige of the Squaw Valley Ski Resort in California.

But whatever, guys. There’s always 2024.

Earlier: The Pride of Philadelphia: A Handy 2012 Olympics Who’s-From-Philly Cheat Sheet
Over on Phoodie: The Olympic Name And Logo Are Only Worthy Of Anyone Who Can Cough Up The Funds

5 Responses to “US Olympic Committee Just A Big Bunch Of (Eerily Identical) Haters”

  1. Jenny Kaus Says:

    Not to mention Atlanta.  Do we really have less international name recognition than Atlanta?  I think I just died a little inside.

  2. friendlynerd Says:

     Also, Salt Lake City.  I struggle to think of a less relevant city.

  3. won226 Says:

    Regular Lake City

  4. Snake Smith Says:

    Winter Olympics are often in “less relevant” cities.  Lake Placid, Trieste?

  5. steven116 Says:

    Didn’t the feasibility study put the Olympic Village in the Navy Yard? As for the so-called lack of international recognition, Philly has hosted olympic qualifying events (and IOC members) in gymnastics, ping-pong, fencing, etc.  to boost its cache and visibility since losing the competition for the 2016 games. With Comcast/NBC being the broadcast partners of the Olympics and the USOC not bidding for the 2020 games, the Olympics will be due to have the continent-rotating event in North America by 2024, which would roughly coincide with America’s sestercentennial (250th anniversary). What better place than Philadelphia for the 2024 games? Keep in mind that David Cohen, VP of Comcast, was on the 2016 working group before Comcast acquired NBC Universal. I think Comcast would make a big push to have the Olympics here as a point of hometown pride, despite whatever difficulties lie ahead.
    By the way, no city that bids on the games has funding in place.

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