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  • Ah, the Olympics.

  • The glory of our best athletes competing for greatness in shiny new stadiums for viewers around the world.

  • But recent games are rife with overspending, waste, and controversy.

  • And most viewers don't even see the lasting damage the games do to the host city.

  • Could we be watching the death of the Olympics?

  • Well, right now it's hard to tell.

  • But this honored tradition is looking sicker every year.

  • Hosting is expensive.

  • Every game in the last 50 years has gone over budget.

  • The 2014 Sochi Winter Games went over it's 10 billion dollar budget by an additional 41 billion dollars.

  • No one knows this better than Professor Andrew Zimbalist.

  • He's written several books on the Olympics, including "Rio 2016: Olympic Myths, Hard Realities."

  • "These days they require about 35 different athletic vendors."

  • "They require an Olympic village that costs one and a half, two, three billion dollars depending on the circumstance."

  • "They require a media and television production facility, which could very easily go for half a billion to a billion dollars."

  • "They require a media village."

  • "They require ceremonial space, and green space."

  • "They require transportation amongst all of them, and special lanes for the IOC executives transportation amongst all of the venues."

  • Cities used to make a profit from the games.

  • Partly because they collected a lot of revenue in TV rights.

  • But recently the International Olympic Committee has been taking a larger percentages.

  • In the 90's for instance, it took 4% of revenue.

  • Compare that with the 70% it pocketed from the 2016 Rio Games.

  • The newly built stadium can cost up to 30 million dollars a year to maintain and they are often on valuable real estate.

  • Most cities don't even know what to use them for after the games.

  • Those facilities fall into decay if they're not kept up, and that hurts property value.

  • "There could also be a lot of environmental disruption."

  • "The Winter Olympics they'll be having in Pyeong Chang, they destroyed a whole mountainside."

  • "Trees and animals that are there, and some of them close to extinction."

  • So who'd want to host the Olympics in the first place?

  • Not many.

  • After each financial failure fewer cities bid to host the following decade's games.

  • After all, it takes 10 years of planning just to be in the running to host.

  • Chicago spent an estimated 100 million on the campaign to host in 2016, and they lost.

  • Boston famously pulled it's bid for the 2024 Summer Games, after citizen group No Boston Olympics convinced the city otherwise.

  • 12 cities bid for the 2004 games, five for 2020, and just two for 2022 Winter Games: China and Kazakhstan.

  • So is that it?

  • R.I.P. Olympic games?

  • "It won't end."

  • "Thomas Bach, the President of the IOC, for all the criticisms that I have of him, he's a smart guy, and he knows when he's up against the wall."

  • "And they've been up against the wall."

  • In 2014 IOC President Thomas Bach suggested a list of 40 actions the IOC could take to shape the future of the Olympic Movement.

  • Among them, evaluate bid cities by assessing key opportunities and risks, reduce the cost of bidding, and include sustainability in all aspects of the Olympic Games.

  • It sounds good on paper, but time will tell if these actions take root.

  • "We're gonna become more sustainable, we're gonna become more affordable, we're gonna become more flexible;"

  • "And by doing that, by tweaking the model a little bit and making pronouncements, they reengage cities to participate."

  • "And what's generally happened is the model has been slightly reformed."

  • "It's a little bit more sensible now then it was before the end of 2020."

  • Zimbalist supports a different idea to keep the Olympics alive.

  • Get rid of the bidding system and pick a permanent host.

  • Somewhere that has the built in facilities, infrastructure, and venues.

  • "We happen to have such a city for the Summer Olympics, it's Los Angeles."

  • "They don't have to do any building virtual."

  • "They've got the infrastructure, transportation infrastructure."

  • "Because it's the second largest city and the entertainment capital of the country."

  • "They've got all of the professional teams from all the leagues."

  • A permanent city could benefit the Winter Games as well.

  • As the climate changes, less cities that have hosted Games in the past can reliably keep snow.

  • The IOC isn't a fan of this idea, but as bidding hosts dwindle, so do their options.

  • The future Summer Games are planned out through 2028, and the Winter Games through 2022.

  • The 2026 Olympics have several cities exploring bids, including two previous hosts, Salt Lake City and Sapporo Japan.

  • Germany, Australia, and India have all expressed interest in the 2032 Summer Games.

  • Despite its flaws, the Olympic Games is still a people pleaser.

  • The IOC polled candidate host cities for the 2020 Games and 70% of Tokyo, 76% of Madrid, and 83% of Istanbul were in support.

  • So maybe the Olympics aren't dying, but it's certainly up to the International Olympic Committee to keep the games in check.

  • Both on the field and off.

Ah, the Olympics.

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Why Hosting The Olympics Isn't Worth It Anymore

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    Mackenzie posted on 2019/08/31
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