Tuesday, August 2, 2016
The ultimate ego trip
The 2016 Summer Olympic Games are scheduled to open in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil in just a few days, and already some in the media are writing it off as an epic fail. They're saying crime there is high, the 'skeeters are deadly, the water is nasty, blah blah blah. This begs the question, "Is it all worth it?"
Do you know what it costs a city to host an Olympic Game? Anywhere from $6.6 billion (Sydney, 2000) to $44 billion (Beijing, 2008). Rio is expected to spend $11.1 billion this year. And depending on the value they put on the publicity they receive, do they get their investment back? Past history says it's doubtful. Oh sure, the contractors who build the venues (and the politicians they bribe) will no doubt do very well, but how about the average Joe on the street who is ultimately going to have to pay for it?
The last I heard Brazil was in really dire financial straights. How can they afford an $11.1 billion ego trip? I'm thinking awarding the Games to a different city every four years is just a money-making scheme benefiting the International Olympic Committee, or as we've recently learned, the IOC members personally. They had a license to steal, and they did!
So why not this: The Olympics originated in Greece, right? Why not just hold them in Greece every four years? The historical connection is undeniable, and they already have much of the infrastructure in place after hosting the Games back in 2004. I doubt the athletes would care....a gold medal is still a gold medal. We'll still see their smiling mugs on a Wheaties box. The several billion TV viewers who watch world-wide can still watch. (Comparatively few of us can afford to go in person anyway.)
Individual national Olympic teams can still sell their sponsorship's to fund their training centers. You can still get your official souvenir hats and t-shirts and stuffed animals on Amazon. Except for the local cabbies and hoteliers and restaurateurs who have a gold mine overcharging tourists during those few weeks, who loses? Oh yeah, the contractors and the politicians they own.
And for the Winter Olympics, why not just hold them in a non-controversial neutral site like Switzerland or maybe Norway? Both of those countries are wealthy and can afford to build the facilities one time, or refurbish what they already have, then just dust them off every four years and do it again.
It seems to me the Games will always be the ultimate test of athletic prowess, regardless of where they're held. I suspect all those little Joe's (Jose's?) in Rio would be happy to have the Olympic monkey off their back. I think Rio's $11.1 billion could be spent on something better, like subsidizing new industry to move there, creating jobs. I think Joe would agree....paychecks trump ego trips.