Contributor Post Created with Sketch. End the Olympics

 
Olympic Rings
Discarded Olympic rings from Beijing sit among garbage and overgrown with weeds.

The 1940 and ’44 Olympic Games were cancelled due to the war. And although she was still rebuilding, London held the first Summer Games afterwards in ’48. The total cost? £761,688. Converted to today’s currency that’s around $10.8 million (US).

Contrast that with 2012 when the Games returned to the same city and it cost in excess of $10 billion. Still the organizers claim they broke even.

But is that enough? When your National Health Service is running a £2.3B deficit is it right to ask your taxpayers to pony up more than that (£3.04B) for a three-week sporting event?

In the latest rounds of bidding for future games, fewer and fewer Western cities are submitting bids. Tokyo was awarded the 2020 games almost by default.

That leaves totalitarian regimes and so-called “emerging” nations as the most likely hosts of the future. The former doesn’t care about the costs and the latter may rue the day in short order.

Pool
The outdoor pool from the Athens Games sits in disrepair today

One can not claim that the 2000 games in Athens is the reason for the Greek economic crisis, but some economists say it had a triggering effect. The billions spent on infrastructure is the wrong type to sustain growth. While Athens new airport is a net plus, the spending on building a beach volleyball stadium, outdoor pool and baseball and softball stadiums proved to be a waste.

Rio de Janeiro is shaping up to be a disaster. Despite all of the spending for the Games Brazil is experiencing one of its deepest economic slumps. Additionally, the president of the country has just been stripped of power by the Senate and the Zika crisis has athletes around the world questioning if the quest for gold is worth the risk to their long-term health. Participants in the sailing events have been complaining about floating garbage and the bacterial cesspool that is Guanabara Bay almost since the day of the announcement.

In April, a 150-foot section of an elevated bike path collapsed into the sea, killing two. While not scheduled to be used for the games, its collapse highlighted the country’s reputation for shoddy construction work. That same week, a test event in the gymnastics venue was plagued by power outages.

IOC President Thomas Bach declared, “The Olympic Games enjoy strong public support from the Brazilian people and the organizers can count on the solidarity of the sporting world.”

“Solidarity” is leftist speak for “Close ranks, boys, the ship is about to hit the sand.”

Anytime politicians wish to ignore the obvious destructive elements of one of their pet projects they refer to it as either “progressive” or “a movement.” Stopping or reversing course is then painted as “regressive.”

In the case of the “Olympic Movement” perhaps it’s best to consider “advancing in a different direction.”

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  1. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSul Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Hear hear! Unfortunately sports venues have become the perfect instance of obscene regulatory capture all over. I remember when the then Philly mayor was seriously contemplating razing Philly’s Chinatown just to accommodate blackmail demands from (I think) the 76er’s (could have been the Eagles or the Phillies). Only public uproar stopped the move, but new stadium that went in by the Delaware was still fronted by the taxpayers, not the actual sports team.

    Indianapolis is still paying for the old Colts stadium that they demolished in favor of winning the Superbowl bid (whose activities they are also now paying down).

    • #1
    • May 12, 2016, at 8:13 AM PDT
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  2. Dave of Barsham Member

    Unfortunately I think there’s probably too much money in it to go quietly, but I agree that it’s long past due. Let it be revived privately when there is a strong enough desire for people to see it.

    • #2
    • May 12, 2016, at 8:17 AM PDT
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  3. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSul Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    LesserSon of Barsham:Unfortunately I think there’s probably too much money in it to go quietly, but I agree that it’s long past due. Let it be revived privately when there is a strong enough desire for people to see it.

    As long as there is graft involved, governments will be hungry for the games, and as long as TV ratings and sponsorships hold up, there will be viewers who will demand them too.

    • #3
    • May 12, 2016, at 8:22 AM PDT
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  4. KC Mulville Inactive

    There was a time when nations were isolated, sports-wise. In the mid-Seventies, the Olympics were the only chance to see Teofilo Stephenson box. The Olympics were the only chance to see the Russian hockey team, for example. But now, we have the Russians in the NHL. Imagine seeing Ovechkin or Malkin on the same team, but only once every four years? Chinese players are scattered throughout Europe’s soccer leagues. Players from other nations aren’t novelties anymore.

    My only regret is the Olympics are really the only time when track and field athletes get any real attention. Except for the Penn Relays, I don’t really see any track meets on TV. I’d like to see the 100m and 400m get attention.

    Other than that, I have little interest in the other sports.

    • #4
    • May 12, 2016, at 8:35 AM PDT
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  5. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Games held in the US traditionally make money. Although it’s interesting to note that Atlanta is about to abandon its Olympic Stadium (Turner Field) for a new baseball stadium in more suburban Cobb County.

    In 1984 Los Angeles primarily used existing facilities including the Coliseum built for the ’32 Games.

    It took Montréal, on the other hand, 30 years to payoff a $1.5 billion (USD) debt from 1976. The debt even outlasted Stade Olymique’s primary tenant, les Expos.

    • #5
    • May 12, 2016, at 8:45 AM PDT
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  6. Douglas Inactive

    I don’t think they should be banned. I think they should be held in one place… Greece… every four years… with the same infrastructure. No building new stuff, just maintain the same stuff for the games. All participating nations could kick in a little for maintenance. And scale the games down. Wayyyyy down. No more beach Volleyball or crap like that. Traditional Olympic events done as close as possible in traditional manners (sans nudity, of course). Check the medals and go back to the laurels. And no more “Winter Olympics”. Separate them completely from the Olympics and give them their own names. The Valhalla Games or something, I don’t care, but not Olympics. Hercules didn’t ski.

    • #6
    • May 12, 2016, at 8:48 AM PDT
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  7. Douglas Inactive

    EJHill:Games held in the US traditionally make money. Although it’s interesting to note that Atlanta is about to abandon its Olympic Stadium (Turner Field) for a new baseball stadium in more suburban Cobb County.

    Terrible waste of money, but that part of Atlanta is becoming not-so-nice, and the Braves did a study to see where their fans were coming from. In the South, baseball is a honkey sport, and all their fans were coming from the white suburbs. Combine that with the growing crime rate in the current stadium area, and the Braves decided to move to where their paying fans actually lived.

    • #7
    • May 12, 2016, at 8:51 AM PDT
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  8. iWe Reagan
    iWe Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Douglas:I don’t think they should be banned. I think they should be held in one place… Greece… every four years… with the same infrastructure. No building new stuff, just maintain the same stuff for the games. All participating nations could kick in a little for maintenance. And scale the games down. Wayyyyy down. No more beach Volleyball or crap like that. Traditional Olympic events done as close as possible in traditional manners (sans nudity, of course).

    This is a super idea.

    Except for the nudity. Keep the nudity. Imagine the sprints or hurdles in slow motion… no limit to the amusement.

    It’ll give me another reason not to watch.

    • #8
    • May 12, 2016, at 8:53 AM PDT
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  9. John H. Inactive
    John H. Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    If Brazilians want to host the Olympics (or the World Cup), that is surely their affair, not mine.

    • #9
    • May 12, 2016, at 8:55 AM PDT
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  10. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Douglas: I think they should be held in one place… Greece… every four years… with the same infrastructure.

    At that point you might as well kill them. The one thing that keeps the Olympic “movement” afloat is the US television market. NBC and its competitors are willing to keep bidding up the rights for the Games for those years when they end up in the Western Hemisphere and they can offer the maximum amount of live coverage in primetime.

    A permanent 7 hour time difference would greatly diminish their value.

    • #10
    • May 12, 2016, at 9:15 AM PDT
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  11. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    John H.: If Brazilians want to host the Olympics (or the World Cup), that is surely their affair, not mine.

    In 2012 the US government gave $22,312,169 in your tax dollars to Brazil. In return Brazil holds $193.5 billion in US debt. If we were only as unattached as you desire.

    • #11
    • May 12, 2016, at 9:22 AM PDT
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  12. iWe Reagan
    iWe Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    EJHill:

    Brazil holds $193.5 billion in US debt.

    Oh, boy. Brazil is in trouble.

    • #12
    • May 12, 2016, at 9:23 AM PDT
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  13. The Reticulator Member

    I believe in Separation of Sports and State.

    • #13
    • May 12, 2016, at 10:21 AM PDT
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  14. Douglas Inactive

    EJHill:

    John H.: If Brazilians want to host the Olympics (or the World Cup), that is surely their affair, not mine.

    In 2012 the US government gave $22,312,169 in your tax dollars to Brazil. In return Brazil holds $193.5 billion in US debt. If we were only as unattached as you desire.

    EJHill:

    Douglas: I think they should be held in one place… Greece… every four years… with the same infrastructure.

    At that point you might as well kill them. The one thing that keeps the Olympic “movement” afloat is the US television market.

    A permanent 7 hour time difference would greatly diminish their value.

    Good. We need to start putting things like the Olympics in their proper perspective.

    • #14
    • May 12, 2016, at 10:29 AM PDT
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  15. Rick Poach Inactive

    EJHill: Tokyo was awarded the 2020 games almost by default.

    And that was only to provide it cover for a potential black-site should their experiments in human brain function enhancement go horribly wrong.

    http://kotaku.com/the-2020-tokyo-olympics-were-predicted-30-years-ago-by-1276381444

    • #15
    • May 12, 2016, at 10:54 AM PDT
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  16. Rick Poach Inactive

    Douglas: No more beach Volleyball or crap like that. Traditional Olympic events done as close as possible in traditional manners

    This has always been my gripe with the Olympics. The original Olympic games were meant to highlight feats of skill relevant to fighting war. It was an ancient ploy at “peace through strength.”

    Keeping with that intent, almost all modern events fall short. The only one I can think of which does not (and the only one which I will make time to watch) is the Biathlon. Also in keeping with that intent, I have often said that Chess and Poker should be Olympic events as their play maps directly to military tactics: strategy, diversion, and bluff.

    • #16
    • May 12, 2016, at 11:07 AM PDT
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  17. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The Olympics lost me when amateurism went out the window. The allure of the 1980 hockey team is lost with NHL players now dominating the rosters.

    Supposedly, Major League Baseball’s refusal to shut down their season for three weeks every four years is one of the reasons the IOC had for removing the sport from competition.

    • #17
    • May 12, 2016, at 11:28 AM PDT
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  18. Judge Mental Member

    EJHill:The Olympics lost me when amateurism went out the window. The allure of the 1980 hockey team is lost with NHL players now dominating the rosters.

    Supposedly, Major League Baseball’s refusal to shut down their season for three weeks every four years is one of the reasons the IOC had for removing the sport from competition.

    Yeah, for me it was the Dream Team thing in basketball. Who cares?

    • #18
    • May 12, 2016, at 11:30 AM PDT
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  19. ctlaw Coolidge

    Douglas: think they should be held in one place… Greece… every four years… with the same infrastructure. No building new stuff, just maintain the same stuff for the games. All participating nations could kick in a little for maintenance.

    Participating nations would not have to kick anything in.

    Host costs would drop to almost nothing because they would not have to be building all new venues. The tax revenue on hotel rooms booked 4 years in advance for the next one might pay for interim upkeep.

    If anything, the real question would be how much revenue should get kicked back to participating nations.

    • #19
    • May 12, 2016, at 11:34 AM PDT
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  20. Craig Member

    When Melbourne Australia obtained the 1956 Olympic Games, the aftermath meant it gained sporting facilities that were used by professional/amateur sporting groups. As a result, Melbourne became an active sporting hub. I sometimes think the IOOC have this in mind when they award the games, but only an infrastructure graveyard remains.

    • #20
    • May 12, 2016, at 11:36 AM PDT
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  21. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Hear, hear. I’ve always disliked the pretense of the haughty Olympics “Movement”. Say what you will about the Oscars, but at least the Academy doesn’t pose as anything other than show business in action.

    Los Angeles did hold a fairly sane, even profitable Games in 1984, back when there was still a Cold War point to it. For once, the city showed the way not to lose money, Montreal-style.

    City officials are pushing a 2024 bid on the same grounds: we’ve already got all the venues; it’s an economy bid. They aren’t lying, but the city is markedly unenthusiastic even at a break-even.

    • #21
    • May 12, 2016, at 11:50 AM PDT
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  22. ctlaw Coolidge

    On the one hand, the disruption to a developed, productive, first world city is likely not worth the benefit. The people of Massachusetts revolted against Boston trying to get the 2024 games.

    On the other hand, savage third world cities are not likely to be able to maintain the infrastructure.

    Melbourne was a nascent first world city with much economic and population growth ahead. The 21st century has no analogue.

    • #22
    • May 12, 2016, at 12:04 PM PDT
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  23. Rick Poach Inactive

    Eudaimonia Rick:

    EJHill: Tokyo was awarded the 2020 games almost by default.

    And that was only to provide it cover for a potential black-site should their experiments in human brain function enhancement go horribly wrong.

    http://kotaku.com/the-2020-tokyo-olympics-were-predicted-30-years-ago-by-1276381444

    In all seriousness, I would not be surprised if Tokyo bid for the 2020 Olympics specifically because of its connection to the anime classic Akira. And this goes to EJ’s point on profitability. The connection could be a huge marketing/merchandising win that no other city could be able to pull off at any other time.

    • #23
    • May 12, 2016, at 12:29 PM PDT
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  24. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk and Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    LesserSon of Barsham: Let it be revived privately when there is a strong enough desire for people to see it.

    The IOC is a private organization, is it not?

    • #24
    • May 12, 2016, at 2:19 PM PDT
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  25. Canadian Cincinnatus Member

    There would be nothing wrong with the Olympics if they would be held on a modest level.

    The biggest contributor to cost is the olympic stadium, which must be bigger than a typical soccer stadium to accommodate the 400 m track. This makes the stadium a big clunky albatross. The simplest way around this is to construct the track and field stadium out of temporary bleachers.

    Same with the swimming events. Build the pools if you have to but make the stadium as small as possible. These stadiums are supposed to be available for amateur athletic events later but in practice they are too big to be practical.

    Endeavour to make everything as modestly as possibly or use existing stadiums, and the Olympics becomes profitable again. The reason the LA Olympics of 1984 broke even was because they used existing facilities.

    Of course, this course of action limits the potential for graft among Olympic officials, which is why it isn’t followed.

    • #25
    • May 12, 2016, at 2:23 PM PDT
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  26. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk and Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Douglas: Hercules didn’t ski.

    The original purpose of the ancient Olympics was for each state to showcase their military prowess. Running, throwing, wresting, etc. It was all to show off their soldiers physical fitness and tactical skills.

    Beach volleyball is not a martial skill. Nor is snowboarding. Nor is baseball, basketball, or hockey.

    Nordic skiing, on the other hand, definitely is. That and the biathlon are actually the only legitimate winter Olympic sports.

    • #26
    • May 12, 2016, at 2:25 PM PDT
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  27. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk and Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Canadian Cincinnatus: The biggest contributor to cost is the olympic stadium, which must be bigger than a typical soccer stadium to accommodate the 400 m track.

    Why can’t they simply go twice around a 200 m track?

    • #27
    • May 12, 2016, at 2:26 PM PDT
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  28. Johnny Dubya Inactive

    Douglas:I don’t think they should be banned. I think they should be held in one place… Greece… every four years… with the same infrastructure. No building new stuff, just maintain the same stuff for the games. All participating nations could kick in a little for maintenance. And scale the games down. Wayyyyy down. No more beach Volleyball or crap like that. Traditional Olympic events done as close as possible in traditional manners (sans nudity, of course). Check the medals and go back to the laurels. And no more “Winter Olympics”. Separate them completely from the Olympics and give them their own names. The Valhalla Games or something, I don’t care, but not Olympics. Hercules didn’t ski.

    This is the most conservative post I’ve read on Ricochet in a long time. Love it. Except for the part about the Winter Olympics. Keep them, and hold them in Chamonix every four years.

    An alternative to making Greece the permanent home of the summer games would be to break up the sports categories and hold them in different world cities during the two-week period. You could have sailing in Perth, swimming in Chicago, gymnastics in Belfast, track and field in Prague, basketball in Beijing, etc.

    • #28
    • May 12, 2016, at 2:29 PM PDT
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  29. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk and Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Johnny Dubya: An alternative would be to break up the sports categories and hold them in different world cities during the two-week period. You could have sailing in Perth, swimming in Chicago, gymnastics in Belfast, track and field in Prague, basketball in Beijing, etc.

    I heartily endorse this proposal. The original point of the modern games is to promote internationalism, after all, rather than to enrich particular cities. As the planet becomes more connected thanks to technology, the practical reasons for hosting the Games in a single country have fallen away. I wager the original designers of the modern Games would have made it more distributed if it had been technologically possible at the time.

    • #29
    • May 12, 2016, at 2:33 PM PDT
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  30. Stad Thatcher

    I used to watch the winter Olympics with a passion, but no more. There are too many stupid “sports” in both the summer and winter Olympics. Pretty soon bean-bag toss will become an Olympic sport . . .

    • #30
    • May 12, 2016, at 2:34 PM PDT
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