Sunday, February 23, 2014
Crow and I are assuming the most recent Olympic Games have now ended and once again we've been shaking our heads. It's no secret the International Olympic Committee is riddled with elitism, arrogance, bribery and worse. With this in mind it becomes much more understandable that when a city is 'gifted' the 'opportunity' of the Olympics that the amount of money required to put on a good show for the world would be staggering.
Overspending on the Olympics can do real economic harm to national economies and has little impact on the quality of the competition. Montreal spent 30 years paying off its debt from hosting the 1976 Summer Olympics. Greece spent $16 billion on the 2004 games in Athens, piling up debts that contributed to the collapse of its economy six years later, even as Olympic venues rotted in disuse.
Russia has spent about $50 billion to build a ski resort from scratch in Sochi: not just trails and snow-making machines, but also roads, rail links, hotels, even a power plant. It’s an amazing achievement, not least because the Winter Games are less than a third the size of the Summer Games, and London spent only about $14.5 billion in 2012.
Cost of Sochi games: $51 Billion dollars. Cost of putting the Curiosity Rover on Mars: $2.6 Billion.
Solution: put the Olympics on Olympus Mons.
Seriously, it's well past time to build permanent facilities for the Summer and Winter Games. Olympia in Greece, which hosted the games for almost 12 centuries from 776 BC, is often proposed for the Summer Games (the Greek government offered 1,250 acres near Olympia in 1980). The Winter Games could take place in Japan or, perhaps, Switzerland. At fixed locations, the investment in state-of-the-art facilities would make financial sense. The venues could be carved out on neutral soil, much like the United Nations in New York, and operated using revenue from tickets, TV rights and merchandise.
Whatever solution is used is less important than that enduring sites be chosen and that the selection game be stopped.
Maybe next time we'll talk about how much it costs to build five separate stadiums to host the World Cup.