The future of the Olympics

In case you were busy today, you missed the 2018 Winter Games being awarded to Pyeongchang, South Korea.

I’ll allow the crickets to stop chirping.

Some time has now passed since the IOC asked Chicago to bend over, slapping their collective faces for what was by all indications an inferior bid from Rio.  Jacques Rogge (the president of the IOC) all but came out and said the Games WILL be in South America or Africa, and still allowed cities to spend 80 million dollars on a bid that had zero chance.  Thanks IOC!

The 2012 games are steamrolling up next year in London, and almost certainly will be fine.  Sochi still has a few years for the Winter Games of 2014, but are apparently moving ahead.  Who knows what will happen with Rio?

So, Given that in about two years the host of the 2020 summer games would be awarded, I thought I would meander over and check out the line of bidders.

First, given 2012 is Europe and 2016 is the Americas, the natural move would be to go to Asia, with a small chance of the U.S. getting in since they will have gone 24 years between summer Olympics and 18 years between any Olympics.

There are currently a whopping three official bids:  Rome, Madrid, and Tokyo.  Madrid has nearly no chance given its economic issues.  Rome might have a chance, but any strong bid from Tokyo is likely a slam dunk.

Africa has four cities that have claimed interest:  Casablanca, Durban, Cairo, and Nairobi.  This is nothing new … the best thing an of these nations can do is claim they are throwing in a hat.  I strongly doubt any will even become an official candidate.  If they do, Durban has the best chance because of South Africa’s recent hosting of the World Cup.  I bet the athletes can’t be ready to line up for the start of a race with 90,000 vuvuzellas buzzing in their ear.

In Asia, Delhi has talked about it … they won’t.  Busan south Korea also did, but they will certainly be ceasing their exploration for these games with Pyeongchang getting the winter games.  Doha, (Qatar) has been a serious applicant in the past, and certainly might have been a serious contender here, however, Qatar’s awarding of the 2022 FIFA World Cup has exposed a lot of issues, not the least of which is strong restrictions on alcohol sales, and the fact that being homosexual is illegal in the nation.  Oh yeah … there have been a few allegations of bribery from officials over the World Cup bid, and given the recent string of IOC bribery scandals, I can see the IOC steering clear of this place.  My guess is, if they play good, they might be stronger contenders for 2024.

Europe has a shot, though with only one game intervening between 2012 London and this one, it is a longer shot, unless it goes to Eastern Europe.  Prague was an also-ran a few years ago, and might stand a better chance now, but cancelled their plans to bid.  Baku has applied before, and has talked about applying again.  They won’t get it because their money has to go to other issues (like decades of ecological rape from the dying oil industry).  Istanbul continues to apply, and continues to be denied.  They die hard.

Toronto plans a bid.  It won’t work because Vancouver will only have been 10 years in the past.  That, and the Canadians just finally paid off the 1976 Olympics in 2007 (Stadé Olympique in Montréal ended up costing over 2 billion American dollars to construct).  The posers north of the border won’t be going there again soon.

Then there is the United States.  There are four cities with exploratory committees: Pittsburgh, Tulsa, Minneapolis, and Dallas.

Tulsa?  Seriously?  If the games were held in Tulsa, I’m not convinced that Texas would learn about the games, let alone the rest of the world.  Minneapolis has applied several times in the past (1948, 52, 56), never getting closer than a far-distant second place to Helsinki in 1952.  They also applied for the 1932 Winter Games (before someone told them that you needed fairly tall mountains for skiing events).  Minneapolis is not close to being an international city, and will not be getting the games.

Pittsburgh will also not be getting the games … it, like Minneapolis, is simply not an international city.

Dallas might be a more serious contender …. except the last (and only, and possibly the final) time the Olympics went to the Deep South it amounted to what the IOC considered (paraphrasing) a monumental international clusterfuck.  Juan Antonio Sammaranch refused to declare the games “the best ever” (a first for him), there was a terrorist bombing that was severely mishandled by security officials, and the every American north of the Mason-Dixon line was pretty offended when the Atlanta committee in representing the whole of the United States in the cultural portion of the opening and closing ceremonies, decided to use stainless steel pickup trucks and country-western singers that aren’t popular in large portions of the US, let alone the rest of the world.  The best thing that Dallas could do is demonstrate to the IOC that Dallas and Texas would not in any way demonstrate an independent streak like the Atlantans did.

Repeating:  The Republic of Texas would have to demonstrate cultural sensitivity and a streak of getting along with others without demonstrating any perchance for acting on their own.  Their zeal in using capital punishment is likely to also run against them, given that many Europeans would rather side with reincarnate zombie Huns than Texans.

However, the Dallas bid is almost certainly unlikely to even get to candidate status.  The USOC has more or less announced that given the situation with Chicago, they are not only not pressing to be a candidate for the Olympics in the future, but they have also announced that there are zero plans to bid at any time in the immediate future.  Keep in mind that the USOC chairman attended less than a half dozen events in Vancouver, despite an all-time record haul of medals for Team USA.  The IOC has acted very overtly to isolate the USOC, and the USOC has done some work to try and repair America’s international standing, but in the end, the +USOC may see the writing on the wall:  this is a mixed blessing:  we aren’t loved, but now we can save our money.

Ironically, with only three serious contenders for the 2020 Games, this is very similar to what happened in the late 70s early 80s.  The 1960 games had 7 applicants.  The 1976 games had 3. For 1980, Moscow beat Los Angeles as the only two bidders.  In 1984, Los Angeles got the games by default:  they were the only bidders.  If you know anything about the Olympics movement, the Games were reeling by this point:  ’72 had the Massacre by terrorists, ’76 saw many African nations boycott and massive cost overruns, and ’80 had not only the boycott, but several teams appearing under the Olympic banner without their national flag, which was likely a bigger embarrassment to the USSR because they really couldn’t cover that up!  1984 revitalized the Olympics with an infusion of cash and while there was a smaller boycott, it also marked the first appearance of the PRC in the games.

Now, it appears we are back to this point where tons of cities are not applying for the Games … a combination of expense and IOC and international politics.  Both can be dealt with:  shrink the games down, and stop with the BS!  If the IOC has a preferred city, then go on and pick them and don’t waste people’s time with the bidding process.  Get a handle on the ethics of the IOC and if there is an issue with particular NOC’s, reel them in.

As the world shrinks, one would think that the Olympic movement would be even bigger than ever …. yet it doesn’t appear to be.


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