The who's-going-to-land-it suspense of Olympic hosting is exciting -- and the results are intriguing -- but there are clear downsides to opening your country to the games, not least of which is the enormous financial cost to the host nation.
In the case of Sochi, estimates hold that as much as $50 billion has been spent transforming a Black Sea beach resort into a winter sports arena (complete with fake snow). It took Canada a generation to recoup the costs of the 1976 Montreal Olympics, and the 2004 Athens games contributed billions to Greece’s already massive national debt.
And once the games are over, the massive infrastructure-investments often turn into largely empty landmarks. The course structures for Sarajevo’s 1984 Winter Games are now dilapidated and covered in graffiti, and Beijing’s Olympic facilities likewise languish unused.
Maybe it would be better (read: cheaper) to establish permanent sites for the Summer and Winter Games. Names floating around include Olympia, Greece—host of the ancient games—as well as Sydney, Vancouver, Switzerland, and Japan—which all have infrastructure built from previous tenures as hosts, and seem to generally have their sh*t together when it comes to running things. In this way, stadiums and course structures could be repeatedly used. And countries participating in the games could all pitch in for other event costs.
Should we save industrialized countries (because no African, Central American, Central Asian, Middle Eastern, or South Asian country has ever had a city chosen) from themselves, since they apparently can’t pass up the prestige and local development associated with hosting the games? Maybe, but man we would miss the drama. (Image: commons.wikimedia.org)