Monday, September 09, 2013

Olympic Thoughts

Some random Olympics stuff:
  • On Saturday, the IOC announced that Tokyo would host the 2020 Olympics.  This will be their second as they also hosted the 1964 summer games.  I have little doubt that they'll do a wonderful job.  
  • In two years, they will announce the host of the 2022 winter games.  You can see the list of cities that are preparing bids here.   The list of potential bids is heavily European, which isn't surprising.  In 2022 it will have been 10 years since a European city hosted.  (Yes, Sochi is 'European' but it's far on the fringe of Europe.)
  • The US will bid for, and almost certainly win, the 2024 summer games.  We haven't hosted since the 2002 winter games in Salt Lake City and that twenty plus year gap is a big one.  A huge amount of funding and commercial support comes from the US so it is only fair that we get to host every so often.
  • Not everyone is happy with the idea of a US city hosting the Olympics, in large part because the financial record of host cities is pretty grim.  Here is an article proposing a permanent 'Olympic Island' that could be set up to handle the infrastructure for every event.  (Well, for summer.  I'm sure a different facility would be needed for winter.)  I'd need some convincing on this, as there is some value in the cultural showcase that each Olympics brings.
  • But how much value should we attach to that?  I don't know.  Certainly not enough to bankrupt cities.  And the intrinsic value of hosting is offset by some pretty negative things that happen during the game.  Ousting the poor and the homeless so that rich people don't have to see them is pretty awful.  So is the full on censorship that comes along with Olympic sponsors.  
  • Having said all of that, what would be more useful now would be sets of ideas on how to bring the cost of hosting down.  On how to make what should be a beneficial experience really be beneficial.  From what I've read, the Los Angeles games of '84 and the Atlanta games of '96 were both wildly profitable.  What did they do differently that a place like London couldn't?  
That last is a big question and it deserves some big time thinking.

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