Olympic Hurdles

 

LHMOjgYVThe splendid news that Boston’s controversial 2024 Olympics bid has come to an end is just the latest evidence that people are beginning to wake up to the fact that hosting a five-ring spectacle of totalitarian bloat is not something that any city should want to do. As NPR notes:

The Olympics are often presented as a chance to enrich a city with new public spending. But Bent Flyvbjerg and Allison Stewart, the Oxford economists, point out that every Olympics since 1960 has gone above budget an average of 179 percent. They call the Olympics “one of the most financially risky type of mega projects that exists, something that many cities and nations have learned to their peril.”

Mayor Walsh of Boston said, “no benefit is so great that it is worth handing over the financial future of our city.”

And quite what those benefits would be is anyone’s guess.

Meanwhile the “prize” of hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics has been awarded to Peking (over Kazakhstan’s Almaty) for reasons that include Peking’s “focus on sustainability, legacy and transparency,” a phrase remarkable both for its dishonesty  — “sustainability” — and marvellously insincere nod to the pieties of the supranational governing class.

Of course, there is a small problem, as the BBC explains:

Beijing is not a mountainous city, so the skiing, snowboarding and sliding events will be held in Yanqing, 55 miles away from the capital, and Zhangjiakou, 100 miles away — on the edge of the Gobi desert. But even these remote venues see minimal snowfall — Zhangjiakou averages eight inches of the white stuff per year, while Yanqing gets a miserly two inches.

Oh well.

More striking still is this:

[A] succession of European cities, including Krakow, Oslo, and Stockholm, withdrew from the race [to host the 2022 games], citing low public support and concerns about the enormous costs of hosting the Games.

Poland, Norway, and Sweden are democracies, where public opinion counts. China and Kazakhstan, not so much.

Meanwhile the International Olympic Committee has reacted to this lack of enthusiasm by tweaking its bid rules. Reuters reports:

Pyongyang2024Following the withdrawal of four out of six cities from the 2022 Winter Olympics bid process, the IOC has opted to scrap the publication of a shortlist midway through the two-year process and allow cities to submit their bid books in three parts. They will first submit their vision for the Games, then provide the financial and legal guarantees before completing their candidacy file with their plan for Games delivery. In previous bids, cities had to submit all three parts at once, early in the process and then hoped to make the shortlist a year before the vote.

“We now allow for more flexibility,” Olympic Games Executive Director Christophe Dubi said on Sunday. “What we want is that when a city comes in front of the IOC session (for the election) that it is ready.”

He said cities could still be cut at any time during the three stages but that was not the aim of the exercise.

Dubi doesn’t get it. The problem is not the process. The problem is the Olympics.

There are 10 comments.

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  1. Mike LaRoche Inactive
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    I haven’t watched the Summer Olympics since 1992.

    • #1
  2. Mike LaRoche Inactive
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    And NBC’s coverage of the Olympics has been atrocious, from what I’ve heard.

    • #2
  3. Mike LaRoche Inactive
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    By the way, I had been wondering why no Texas cities (Houston, Dallas, San Antonio) had been submitting bids to host the Olympics.  Thanks to your post, the answer is now obvious.

    • #3
  4. Douglas Inactive
    Douglas
    @Douglas

    This is the type of thing Boston would have jumped on with the quickness 30 years ago. Unfortunately for the Olympic Committe, Boston has been going through the Big Dig for a quarter century. As a result, they’ve wised up about some of this stuff. Now, if American cities can just learn to tell pro sports owners to go to hell when they threaten to leave if the city doesn’t buy them a new stadium. I’m not so optimistic on that.

    Meanwhile the “prize” of hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics has been awarded to Peking (over Kazakhstan’s Almaty) for reasons that include Peking’s “focus on sustainability, legacy and transparency,” a phrase remarkable both for its dishonesty — “sustainability”

    What’s Olympian for “China paid the biggest bribes?

    • #4
  5. E. Kent Golding Member
    E. Kent Golding
    @EKentGolding

    Mike LaRoche:I haven’t watched the Summer Olympics since 1992.

    Women’s Beach Vollyball.

    • #5
  6. Mike LaRoche Inactive
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    E. Kent Golding:

    Mike LaRoche:I haven’t watched the Summer Olympics since 1992.

    Women’s Beach Vollyball.

    So, when do the 2016 Olympics start? ;-)

    • #6
  7. SPare Member
    SPare
    @SPare

    The Olympics as an event are truly awesome to behold.  The product is so strong that it almost makes up for the cesspool of international politics that defines it behind the scenes.  About 20 years ago I read a book called “The Lords of the Rings” that outlined this, bringing to the fore such noxious characters like Juan Antonio Samaranch (Spanish Fascist), Primo Nebbiolo (IAAF’s belching pustule), Sepp Blatter (where have I heard that name before…) and Mickey Kim (South Korean spy chief).

    Prior to reading it, I bought into the hype of the games, that even if it came at a high price, the glory of hosting the event would spur the rejuvenation of a city.  Clearly, that hope was misplaced.  (Of course, being a former Montrealer, it should have been evident to me long before).

    I now view all of these sports festivals as a means for politicians to push through infrastructure projects that couldn’t get funded under normal circumstances.  The area around my office in downtown Toronto has been a construction zone for the last 5 years now, preparing for a Pan Am games that came and went without just about any effect on the city.  At least we got an airport/downtown train out of the deal.  Don’t want to know how much extra tax I’ll be paying for it.

    • #7
  8. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Douglas:This is the type of thing Boston would have jumped on with the quickness 30 years ago. Unfortunately for the Olympic Committe, Boston has been going through the Big Dig for a quarter century. As a result, they’ve wised up about some of this stuff. Now, if American cities can just learn to tell pro sports owners to go to hell when they threaten to leave if the city doesn’t buy them a new stadium. I’m not so optimistic on that.

    Meanwhile the “prize” of hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics has been awarded to Peking (over Kazakhstan’s Almaty) for reasons that include Peking’s “focus on sustainability, legacy and transparency,” a phrase remarkable both for its dishonesty — “sustainability”

    What’s Olympian for “China paid the biggest bribes?

    Amen.

    • #8
  9. Richard Finlay Inactive
    Richard Finlay
    @RichardFinlay

    The solution to the Olympic-corruption cycle is also the solution to the EU financial crisis.  Award the Olympics permanently to Greece on the condition that they give the franchise to Disney, who will then turn the country into an Olympic theme-park.  Dividing the events up so there is a quadrenniel championship every year and adding guest-participation events and rides should turn the Greek economy around.  I hope Greeks can learn to smile a lot, otherwise they might get squeezed out of their own country by part-time and transient employees.

    • #9
  10. jzdro Member
    jzdro
    @jzdro

    Richard Finlay:The solution to the Olympic-corruption cycle is also the solution to the EU financial crisis. Award the Olympics permanently to Greece on the condition that they give the franchise to Disney, who will then turn the country into an Olympic theme-park. Dividing the events up so there is a quadrenniel championship every year and adding guest-participation events and rides should turn the Greek economy around. I hope Greeks can learn to smile a lot, otherwise they might get squeezed out of their own country by part-time and transient employees.

    Perfect, yes!  Re-enactors of sea battles, land battles, and chariot races can have their doings added as sporting events.

    • #10

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