Gastonia, NC Correspondent-While there were a few problems in Rio (not nearly as many as Ryan Lochte would have us believe), the Games overall went off pretty smoothly. Its lingering effects on the Brazilian economy remain to be seen, with estimates ranging from a huge bonanza to the financial analog of a gas truck plowing into a fireworks factory.
This happens every two years when a city hosts a Winter or Summer Olympics. The pundits swirl, pointing out the costs and showing us plenty of pictures of the poor unfortunates who won’t benefit from the games. In Rio, with the crushing poverty of the favelas butted right up next to the venues, this was writ large.
However, would the lives of those people be any better without the Games? The Brazilian government hadn’t shown any interest in helping the people living in the favelas, and a lot of the residents were able to make extra money thanks to the influx of tourists.
Giving the Summer Games a central location would kill them (and we’re not even addressing the fact that the Winter Games couldn’t live in Athens). Part of the appeal of the Olympics is the changing scenery, seeing how different host countries prepare for and entertain the athletes, media and tourists. From the always ludicrous unveiling of the Olympic mascots to the opening and closing ceremonies, each host country puts its own unique stamp on the Games. Who can forget the mind-bending display of totalitarian gusto put on in Beijing? How about the elegance of the London Games? Every city does its best, and every country shines itself up for company.
There are no shortage of cities bidding to host the Olympics. My own city of Charlotte put together a bid a few years back, and rumors are flying that we’ll try again once we sort out who gets to use which bathroom…but that’s another topic.
Owatonna, MN Correspondent-The recently concluded Summer Olympics were fraught with problems and concerns such as excess costs, delayed construction issues, fears of the Zika virus, and using money that many thought Brazil could have better spent on addressing its social and economic problems. Despite those issues, the Olympic Games concluded successfully, if not smoothly.
It seems that recent Olympic venues have all struggled with problems like cost overruns, venues that sit empty after the athletes and spectators have left, and limited or no long-term benefit to local economies. The time has come to rethink the practice of awarding the Olympic Games to different cities every four years. What better location could there be for a permanent home to the summer Olympics than Athens?
Reason number one would be to honor the wonderful Olympic history and the tradition of friendly competition dating to the time of the ancient Greeks. Despite its recent turmoil and the occasional World War, Greece has been relatively peaceful and stable. It is also home to some of the true wonders of the world, both cultural and archeological. Convening the worlds’ best athletes in the same location every four years would impart a strong sense of tradition to the venues. First-time Olympians could race on the same tracks, swim in the same pools, or flip and tumble on the same gymnastic apparatuses as all the great athletes before them.
A second reason would be state-of-the-art venues that would be used regularly. Living quarters for athletes and hotels for spectators could be more than temporary and have better amenities and could be used for non-Olympic purposes in non-Olympic years. Transportation and other infrastructure would be gradually improved and made permanent and efficient.
The best reason for a permanent host site may be to change the funding of the Olympics from the sole responsibility of the host city or nation to all participating countries. Each country would share the costs of producing the Games on a proportional basis. Large nations such as China, the United States, and Russia would pay the lion’s share of the costs since they send the most athletes and win the majority of medals. As countries’ participation increased or decreased, the shares could be adjusted.
The main apparent downside to this idea is that host nations and cities would no longer be able to use the Olympic Games to showcase their cultures and societies. This problem might be easily solved by allowing a different nation to create the opening and closing ceremonies. Furthermore, given that costs to put on the Games have often outpaced revenues, resulting in a net economic drain on the host country, ending the rotating host city should be amenable to most of the world. The time has come to discuss a permanent location for the Summer Olympic Games.
Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent-With the multitude of problems that came out of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, the Olympic summer games should be permanently moved to Athens, Greece, not just because Athens was the birthplace of the modern Olympic Games but for other reasons as well.
The summer games are not only astronomically expensive but they are a huge spectacle that draws attention and big money from around the world. The only problems with various cities vying for the games and eventually hosting them are the financial demands and burdens that are placed on the communities.
Host cities have to invest in total infrastructure alterations to accommodate the various sporting venues, which include athlete housing, spectator lodging and other summer Games building projects. These construction-related projects take away from the real needs of a city and its inhabitants, which include inherent problems with displacement and dislocation of citizens from their homes during the construction phases of the Games. The last 20 summer Games required the building of sporting sites, stadiums, and other buildings which displaced citizens. For example, the Atlanta games of 1996 forced over 30 thousand residents to move during the games and make way for various structures.
The costs for cities to sponsor the summer games are tremendous and run in the billions. The 2016 games in Rio have already risen to $15 billion, and continue to increase. Many Olympic promoters say that cities can showcase themselves to the world, but only two games (in Los Angeles) have ever turned a substantial profit, which was only due to the already existing facilities in the area along with the over commercialization of the Games.
The ever increasing expenses of the Games are also related to the city/country selection process as the IOC (International Olympic Committee), which has no costs to bear in the process, reaps and gains huge profits through the selection process. The forced competition between possible host cities puts these locales in the position of bidding higher and higher to invest in the sporting projects of the Games. Any suggested building projects are usually of no future use or benefit to the chosen city and the expenses incurred are prohibitive. The ever growing costs simply puts cities out of the running for the summer Games.
The only answer to the expenses and dilemmas of the summer Games is the hosting of the Olympics in the same place every four years. Rather than investing billions of dollars in a different city, a permanent location for the Games should be established, such as Athens, Greece.
The Olympic tradition originated in Greece, and the stability of such a classic site is one way to provide easy access for athletes from other countries, plus local citizens are not displaced or forced to move while extravagant sports complexes and other facilities are constructed. The site could also become a place for all types of cultural events as they were in ancient Greek history, and athletes would be welcome to train there as long as necessary. An island atmosphere would allow for the needs of athletes and citizens and would help eliminate the commercialization and politicalization of the Games.
The IOC (International Olympic Committee) certainly needs to consider a permanent change of venue since they profit significantly from the games. They should provide funding to a permanent sports facility in Greece rather than allowing other countries to bid on projects they can’t afford.
A new model for the summer Games is needed and a permanent home is the answer. It is one of the few common sense answers as to what the Olympics should represent. Doing away with overzealous competition for hosting the Games as well as eliminating the huge losses of individual host countries must be part of a new strategy for the IOC and other Olympic sponsors. A renewed interest in the summer games can be realized with an original and traditional location such as Athens. Such a site will help restore the real substance of the Olympics-peaceful, productive and enlightening athletic competitions with true brotherhood in mind.