Why Hosting The Olympics Isn’t Worth It Anymore!
The glory of best athletes competing for greatness in shiny new stadiums for viewers around the world. But recent games are rife with overspending, wastes, 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.” 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 percentage. In the ’90s 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.
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.
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.
Zimbalist supports a different idea to keep the Olympics alive. Get rid of the bidding system and pick a permanent host. Somewhere that has built-in facilities, infrastructure, and venues. A permanent city could benefit the Winter Games as well. As the climate changes, fewer 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 Tokoyo, 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.