SBD/May 24, 2017/Olympics

Future Olympics Could Be In Question As Increasing Costs Scare Off Bidding Cities

The IOC "runs the risk of endangering the future of the Olympic movement" as costs associated with hosting the Games "spiral and the trail of waste grows longer and wider," according to Nancy Armour of USA TODAY. Unless the "rampant spending is reined in, the IOC will find within a decade that the only cities interested -- or able -- to host the Games will be a select few that have done it before," like L.A., or are in countries "run by despots for whom money is no object." In a "scathing report issued Monday, a federal prosecutor in Brazil said the country’s bid for last summer’s Rio Olympics was made with 'no planning.'" The IOC "no doubt" will "react to the Rio report with its customary statements about how the bid process has been reformed and fiscal responsibility is paramount." But cities are "indicating that they’re finally getting wise to the Olympic shell game." The '22 Winter Games were awarded to Beijing after Oslo and Stockholm "said thanks but no thanks." Meanwhile, the IOC is debating whether to split the '24 and '28 Games between L.A. and Paris after Boston, Hamburg, Budapest and Rome "wanted no part" of '24. And already, voters in Switzerland have rejected a possible '26 bid while Barcelona "took itself out of the running." The Games "make sense" for a city like L.A., but there are "only a handful of cities like L.A." (USA TODAY, 5/24). The AP's Tim Dahlberg writes, "That the Olympics are a bloated exercise in excess isn’t exactly a state secret." That they "always cost more than originally estimated and are far more complicated by the time they go off is also well known." Those issues "can be overcome in wealthy countries with unlimited resources." But the '16 Rio and '04 Athens Games "proved" that the Olympics are "much too big now to dump on countries that have to struggle to handle them." Dahlberg: "It’s hard to imagine any city wanting to host the Olympics at all" (AP, 5/24).

COME TOGETHER: In N.Y., Jere Longman writes as preparations accelerate for the '18 PyeongChang Games, sporting relations on the Korean Peninsula in recent years have "seldom appeared more amicable." Olympic organizers "want to sustain the relatively cordial relations and to curb any threat to the Games, with hopes that North Korea will participate." PyeongChang is about 40 miles from the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea. If any North Korean athletes "qualify for the Winter Games -- none have so far -- plans call for them to travel through the heavily fortified DMZ, in what South Korean officials describe as a gesture of peace." North Korea "continues to develop and test ballistic missiles," and it is "impossible to know whether such threats will intensify to the point of disrupting the Winter Games." Alternatively, warnings could "ease and one of the world’s largest sporting events will not be directly affected." Current and former Olympic officials said that it "appears too late to move the Winter Games to another country," given the "years of preparation needed for security, ticketing and housing, and the building, upgrading and testing required." Officials said that it also "seems unlikely at this late date that South Korea would try to reduce tensions and promote good will by offering North Korea a chance to host some Olympic events" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/24).
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