A new format for the Olympics?

2017-06-27

in Economics, Politics

So many recent Olympic games have had a questionable legacy and, since the world as a whole needs to be undertaking a massive effort to function more sustainably, it seems like the itinerant period in Olympic history might be appropriately brought to an end.

It’s lunacy to build Olympic-level athletic facilities over and over again, particularly since many of them (like ski jumps and bobsled tracks) cannot be safely used by anyone outside a tiny handful of world class athletes.

Instead, it seems much more sensible to adopt one of two approaches: the establishment of permanent homes for the summer and winter Olympics in suitable locations where the facilities already exist, or the dispersal of the Olympics with events to happen in different places around the world which already have facilities in place. Either approach would eliminate the role of the Olympics as a national prestige project, but that’s arguably where most of the problems come from, from massive spending on security and facilities to corruption.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

. June 29, 2017 at 3:19 pm
. June 29, 2017 at 3:19 pm

From unpaid workers to barren arenas, Rio’s Olympic legacy has quickly become one of regret

Scott Stinson: The more you dress up Olympic spending into big, long-term legacy projects, the more risk you run that those things will never materialize

. June 29, 2017 at 3:20 pm

The business model for the Olympic Games is running out of puff

Budapest is the latest city to withdraw its bid to host them

After lots of cities bowed out of the competition for the 2022 winter games it was again left with two options: Almaty, Kazakhstan and Beijing, China. The prospect of having no bidders for future events—or of having a bidding contest between autocrats eager to host a vanity project—seems likelier than it once did.

The really radical answer would be to designate one or a few permanent host cities so that the Olympics sports infrastructure has a life beyond the extinguishing of the Olympic flame. Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, has spoken favourably of this idea. The proposal is not new. In 1896 Greece’s King George pleaded with de Coubertin to make the country the permanent host. The Frenchman would not have it. “I decided to act as if I were stupid, pretending not to understand,” he wrote. Thomas Bach, the IOC’s president, may not have the luxury of ignoring reality for much longer.

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