It’s a question asked every four years: Are the Olympic games worth the enormous amount of money needed to stage them?
But even the high end of the estimates will fall short of the nearly $22-billion spent by Russia for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
The budget-busting price tags have some considering alternatives such as permanent sites that get the games on a rotating basis and spreading out the games to many sites that would host one event.
While the Olympic torch lights up the skies over Rio de Janeiro, Brazilians hope they won’t get burned too much.
Making the Case for a New Olympics Model
Paul Christesen – The Conversation
It seems as though the Olympics have become too big, too costly and too complicated to be hosted by a single city. The solution? The International Olympic Committee (IOC), the governing body for the Olympic Games, should hold competitions for each different sport in a different global city….
Cities would presumably bid to host a sport that was locally popular and for which much of the requisite infrastructure was already in place, greatly diminishing the cost and environmental impact of the Olympics. For example, Louisville, Kentucky – the site of the World Equestrian Championships in 2010 – would be an ideal host for the equestrian events. Likewise, Manchester, England, which boasts a world-class velodrome, would be a great place to hold the track-cycling events.
A decentered Olympics would also solve, once and for all, the problem of finding uses for the sports venues that get built for the Olympic Games, often at a huge cost, only to sit underused or abandoned once the games leave town.
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Stop Picking Different Cities to Host the Olympic Games
Paul Glastris – The Washington Post
Putting on a modern Olympics is a massive undertaking. Doing it for the first time, with no prior experience, taxes the management capacities of even a wealthy, sophisticated city or country….
…there are the insanely wasteful infrastructure projects that host cities typically build and that are often of little use after the Games leave town. The beautiful stadiums and training facilities that Athens constructed in 2004 have mostly sat idle since — though some of them now house refugees.
All of this waste, risk and corruption is utterly unnecessary. The ancient Greeks held the Olympics in the same wooded sanctuary on the Peloponnese for a thousand years with no evident complaints in the extant literary record. We should do something similar for the modern Olympics: pick a city or country to be the permanent host — one each for the Summer and Winter Olympics.
What if the Olympics Were Always Held in the Same City?
Uri Friedman – The Atlantic
In recent years, many Olympic host cities have had to reckon with corruption, ballooning costs, under-investment in public services in the run-up to the Games, and projects that don’t help—and sometimes harm—much of the population….
Given these realities, many of the governments jockeying to host the Olympics these days are autocratic. Since the leaders of Russia and China aren’t accountable to voters, they are free to spend as much as $50 billion on the competition. Meanwhile, in many democracies, support for hosting the Olympics is waning—especially amid concerns about economic stagnation and income inequality….
Why not designate a permanent home for the Olympic Games?
Rio Olympics: Will Brazil Be Ready? Why So Much of the World Thinks it Won’t
Libby Nelson – Vox
The concerns about Rio de Janeiro’s readiness are understandable: Brazil has the unenviable task of hosting an Olympics at the intersection of more crises than many nations see in a decade. The good news is that the Games themselves probably won’t seem like a disaster. The bad news is that they could end up worsening Brazil’s already deep problems….
When the International Olympic Committee awarded the games to Rio, the choice was seen as a way to help the country continue growing and to give South America its first host city. If Brazil had continued to grow, that strategy might have worked out.
But beginning in 2011, Brazil’s growth started to slow. Prices for the country’s main exports, such as soy, oil, and sugar, fell; a massive scandal involving the state-run oil company engulfed the government and hurt consumer confidence. Wages fell. Unemployment began to rise. In the first quarter of 2016 alone, the country’s economy shrank nearly 6 percent.
As Brazil Racks Up Bills, Many Cities Say Games Aren’t Worth Costs
Karin Zeitvogel – The Washington Diplomat
While the lavish spectacle gives nations the global spotlight and a bump in tourism, the add-ons — from state-of-the-art stadiums to frightening ski-jumps to intricate, man-made waterways for canoe and kayak competitions — bring little benefit to the average inhabitant of London, Beijing, Atlanta, Athens or Sochi. And they cost an arm and a leg to build and, after the Games, to maintain….
Supporters of the London Games counter that the Olympics helped revitalize a rundown section of East London that otherwise would’ve taken decades for private investment to develop. They also note that many of the structures have been repurposed for other sporting events.
But the legacy of London remains mixed, with promises of a large-scale economic boost largely unfulfilled. Still, London was financially better off than other cities to absorb the cost overruns that inevitably entail Olympic construction. Rio may not be in the same fortunate position.