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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.
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.”