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 philly.com, 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.