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The 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.
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:
Following 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.