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Bidding for better and worse


Athensfan
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Vancouver is serving as a reminder that winning the right to host the Games is a mixed blessing. The Games attract international attention. Some of that attention will result in glory for the host nation, however, some of that attention may also result in embarrassment. There is no way to predict what issues may arise shortly before or during the Games. Think of the disgraced sprinters in Athens, terrorism in Munich, boycotts in Moscow and LA, weather and luge tragedy in Vancouver. There are also the flaws that show up in the organization and planning, such as transportation in Atlanta, various operational snafus in Vancouver, human rights abuses in China and gross cost overruns in Montreal.

We all know that the Games bring honor and prestige to the host. We should not forget that they also bring great expense, varying degrees of dissension, the risk of embarrassment for the organizers, and various challenges that may be all but impossible to foresee or predict. How many bid cities conveniently forget these realities as they make their appeals to the IOC?

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Vancouver is serving as a reminder that winning the right to host the Games is a mixed blessing. The Games attract international attention. Some of that attention will result in glory for the host nation, however, some of that attention may also result in embarrassment. There is no way to predict what issues may arise shortly before or during the Games. Think of the disgraced sprinters in Athens, terrorism in Munich, boycotts in Moscow and LA, weather and luge tragedy in Vancouver. There are also the flaws that show up in the organization and planning, such as transportation in Atlanta, various operational snafus in Vancouver, human rights abuses in China and gross cost overruns in Montreal.

We all know that the Games bring honor and prestige to the host. We should not forget that they also bring great expense, varying degrees of dissension, the risk of embarrassment for the organizers, and various challenges that may be all but impossible to foresee or predict. How many bid cities conveniently forget these realities as they make their appeals to the IOC?

Reasonable points Athensfan, though actually I don't think the bid cities forget as much as wilfully downplay the negatives whilst trumpeting the positives. Like any huge economic and political endeavour there are spin doctors in from the get go, and they will weave their stories of Olympic inspired largesse to anyone they can because both the IOC and the bid committees need positive news like a drunk needs booze. Then, when the whole hosting process is complete and the last athletes fly home and the stadiums empty, its the void between what was promised and the growing list of doubts and perceived failures that then make that experience better or worse. Sometimes, like in Munich or in Atlanta (and arguably now in Vancouver) death will overshadow the games. Sometimes (such as in Sydney or Barcelona) the negatives are less visible in public consciousness because there wasn't too big a gap between the promised good times of the games and the bad.

When all is said and done Juvenal got it 100% right over 1900 years ago...it's all panem et circensis...bread and circuses. We get enough bread and the circus entertains then the Olympic hosting experience is welcomed. Little financial reward and a bad experience from the 'show' and the Olympics are cursed by the unhappy hosts.

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i think another thing that has become of the olympics is that its perceived promises of change are too blown up. when china was bidding for the 2008, they believed that it help their human rights record but what did we see leading up to the games? they keep comparing china to korea and how korea managed to reform and open up but the examples are apples and oranges. now what we have in china are white elephants. the bird's nests is hardly used. at least with vancouver, the post games use of venues such as the curling area, speed skating oval has all been laid out way before the venue was completed. but then there are always the unexpected snafus that will happen. a host can only prepare so much but they must also prepare themselves always for the unexpected. events like the olympics, world cup are always a huge commercial undertaking that requires not only massive funds but massive manpower. at the end of this games, the moment the accounting books are closed and the financial statement made public and the benefit realized that's the only way to determine if it was for the best of the city or not.

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Physical legacies can be very real and brilliant.

As difficult it is to build an Olympic Park, get everyone to the venues, and leave a lasting physical legacy, it seems to me that this is the easy bit. Bringing a nation in from the cold, getting millions more into sport, fixing broken communities, promises on human rights etc. are much more knotty legacy promises and ones I look on quite sceptically when they're made; and that includes those made by London 2012, before anyone asks.

I don't think, though, Vancouver is "serving as a reminder that winning the right to host the Games is a mixed blessing" so much as showing how different things are now from how they were even a few short years ago. The smallest of problems go round the world in an instant on twitter, facebook etc. Everything is amplified and reamplified. Now, of course, in the case of Kumaritashvili that would've been world news at any time in the last few decades, but everything else that has gone into the "Are these Games cursed?" thread seems to be not so out of the ordinary, but perhaps more widely reported than ever before.

Edited by RobH
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Physical legacies can be very real and brilliant.

As difficult it is to build an Olympic Park, get everyone to the venues, and leave a lasting physical legacy, it seems to me that this is the easy bit. Bringing a nation in from the cold, getting millions more into sport, fixing broken communities, promises on human rights etc. are much more knotty legacy promises and ones I look on quite sceptically when they're made; and that includes those made by London 2012, before anyone asks.

I don't think, though, Vancouver is "serving as a reminder that winning the right to host the Games is a mixed blessing" so much as showing how different things are now from how they were even a few short years ago. The smallest of problems go round the world in an instant on twitter, facebook etc. Everything is amplified and reamplified. Now, of course, in the case of Kumaritashvili that would've been world news at any time in the last few decades, but everything else that has gone into the "Are these Games cursed?" thread seems to be not so out of the ordinary, but perhaps more widely reported than ever before.

Nice points about the impact of new media and social networking on how news from Vancouver is being possibly amplified, twisted or exaggerated. And in fact we ourselves here at GB are part of that process (though I'd think not negatively).

One wonders how Grenoble 68 would have fared with its two deaths in the age of twitter, satellite TV and forums...

I feel a new thread coming on...

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For me the one big let down so far is the lack of festival atmosphere in downtown Vancouver. Having so many of the public areas locked away behind fences and security has taken away from what I expected would be three weeks of European style public partying.

Ostensibly, the reason is security. However, all they've down is create masses of people outside various venues and locations. Why would someone try to get through security when there are so many more easy targets waiting in a line-up, or standing behind a fence outside? Not to mention the swells of people standing outside various transit locations.

I don't mean to be entirely negative. Despite VANOC's best efforts, I've still had a lot of fun checking out many of the different Olympic functions. I plan on heading back down next weekend for the Canada-USA hockey tie. Hopefully by then they'll have learned to relax a bit and take down some of the barricades.

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^ the lack of festival atmosphere in Downtown Vancouver???? You've gotta been f-ing kidding me. Are you sure you're not in Vancouver, Washington?

I don't mean to say there isn't any atmosphere. Yes, there are lots of people and lots of things happening. I guess after vising other huge celebrations around the world I had unrealistic expectations for Vancouver.

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