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Gangwon

"Olympics getting too big for democracies"

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http://www.playthegame.org/news/detailed/the-olympics-too-big-for-democracies-5420.html

I can't say I don't agree with Jean-Loup Chappelet.

"However, the success of a Games is often measured more in political terms than in economic terms, as many countries see hosting the Olympics as a way of marking their arrival or return on the international scene.

This was the case for Japan in 1964, Germany in 1972 and Korea in 1988. Today, it is the case for the BRICS countries. After China, with Beijing 2008, Russia will host Sochi 2014, and Brazil will stage Rio 2016. South Africa and India may join the ranks for 2024. Turkey is also showing great interest for 2020.

Due to their strong economic growth, these countries have substantial financial resources, which may be enough to keep the Olympic fire stoked for a number of years to come. However, they place the bar so high it will be difficult to step back."

I predict that whichever country is bold enough to host an affordable, scaled-back Olympics will become a trend-setter, and its legacy in changing the way the Olympics are run will be right up there with past hosts like Berlin '36 and LA '84. The only problem is finding that host willing to be the first to scale back.

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If circumstances force it, like for 1984 when it had no alternative, the IOC will pick a host contender that can scale things back. But why would they as long as they have new and exotic locales still willing to spend what it takes to "mark their arrival on the international scene"?

This whole "the Games are too big" sounds all noble, but it's a flawed concern as long as cities are lining up to get them. The games aren't a "right" for small countries to host - they're a luxury party for those with the means to throw on the world's behalf. No matter how scald back they may ever be, it'll still never put them within reach of modest or small cities - and why should they?

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If circumstances force it, like for 1984 when it had no alternative, the IOC will pick a host contender that can scale things back. But why would they as long as they have new and exotic locales still willing to spend what it takes to "mark their arrival on the international scene"?

This whole "the Games are too big" sounds all noble, but it's a flawed concern as long as cities are lining up to get them. The games aren't a "right" for small countries to host - they're a luxury party for those with the means to throw on the world's behalf. No matter how scald back they may ever be, it'll still never put them within reach of modest or small cities - and why should they?

I don't think anyone will argue that the Olympics should be within reach of small countries or small cities, that ship has sailed.

I do agree that everything's fair game in Olympic bidding- so if the newer, richer, perhaps even authoritarian countries are willing to outspend all others, that's their prerogative. But the time for a games of austerity (or even a period of games of austerity) might be closer than we think if the Tokyo or especially Madrid gets 2020- and thankfully so. The nations and cities that are not willing to go bonkers over Olympic spending need a patron saint to get the ball rolling to show that it's not a failure or a disappointment to scale back the games.

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You still have to cater for 10,000 athletes, still have to have venues which meet the minimum capacity requirements (some of which are onorous even for big cities to acheive).

Athens and Beijing were the high points of overspending and lavishness, London has scaled back as far as it can without damaging its Park concept which is central to the regenerative power of our Games (the scaling back coms from using as many temporary and existing venues as possible), the next level down from London is probably something like what Madrid is proposing - lots of existing venues but not in one new clusterr or Park. But Madrid will only be seen as austere and scaled back BECAUSE it is a developed city with most of its venues already in place, a luxury most biidders won't have.

I'm not sure how much smaller the Games CAN go without the IOC culling some sports or lowering their venue requirements

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I predict that whichever country is bold enough to host an affordable, scaled-back Olympics will become a trend-setter, and its legacy in changing the way the Olympics are run will be right up there with past hosts like Berlin '36 and LA '84.

I completely agree. But, unfortunately, it's still the IOC picking the host city. And the IOC members what all the expensive glamor. So how do we get to a cheaper games?

1) Does RSA put up a very competent bid that cuts out the glamor? Do they throw down the gauntlet and tell the IOC to put up or shut up? You want the games in Africa.. Here’s a plan to bring the games in Africa. Either accept the plan, or cut the crap about new frontiers, etc.

2) Does a country put up grand plan, get the games, the cut *way* back?

3) Do we run out of cities willing to spend the big bucks to host?

4) Does the IOC, out of a genuine concern about costs, change their requirements?

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I completely agree. But, unfortunately, it's still the IOC picking the host city. And the IOC members what all the expensive glamor. So how do we get to a cheaper games?

1) Does RSA put up a very competent bid that cuts out the glamor? Do they throw down the gauntlet and tell the IOC to put up or shut up? You want the games in Africa.. Here’s a plan to bring the games in Africa. Either accept the plan, or cut the crap about new frontiers, etc.

2) Does a country put up grand plan, get the games, the cut *way* back?

3) Do we run out of cities willing to spend the big bucks to host?

4) Does the IOC, out of a genuine concern about costs, change their requirements?

It would probably be a mix of 2, 3, and 4. I think the most likely scenario is that future repeat hosts will win their respective bids at a race when the bid is geopolitically favourable, and will get the IOC votes simply because "it is time." And when that happens, one of them will/should scale back.

I don't think ALL hosts need to cut back. Like Rols said, the Olympics are about politics just as much as they are about sports, and some hosts will certainly a) want to go all lavish to make a statement to the world, and b ) have to spend lots, because there are no venues in place yet. But for those countries that can throw a good party under smart spending, I hope they use their existing infrastructure to their advantage. Which will be tough, because I can only imagine the outcry from some factions if there were no sparkling, shiny buildings to go along with the games, and which host wants to deal with that outcry.

Edited by Gangwon

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1) Does RSA put up a very competent bid that cuts out the glamor? Do they throw down the gauntlet and tell the IOC to put up or shut up? You want the games in Africa.. Here’s a plan to bring the games in Africa. Either accept the plan, or cut the crap about new frontiers, etc.

Isn't that what the IOC did with Rio already? They were last (and only borderline at that) on the evaluation score, some members here still seem to take offense that they only scraped in with a "pass mark", the mere thought of Rio's two main stadiums plan long continued to piss off a lot of the "no compromise with tradition" people here, and many people think the 2014 Brazil WC, far from being a fantastic dress rehearsal and barometer of progress and readiness, will actually take some glitter from 2016.

Edited by Sir Rols

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Just imagine, if certain cities and countries had to rely on "rich countries" to fund their Olympic dreams. Some would say that is "buying the Olympic Movement" in a, well, some subtle way. This idea is very touchy and get out of control in many fronts, if confronted directly by some in the IOC. Anyway, as long as cities around the world want the main Olympic Games to come to their country, the IOC is going to welcome them in open arms. Besides, just imagine again, if NO city wants to host a particular Olympic Games? That could be impossible to some people, but stranger things has happened before.

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Well there have been many, many examples of all the types of bids.

Los Angeles 1984 used a lot of existing and temporary venues

Barcelona 1992 only did as much as was needed to host the games

Atlanta 1996 built what could be used afterwards and used temporary venues for the rest

Lillehammer 1994 spread venues out so they would have more use post-games

Vancouver 2010 scaled way back from original plans

Beijing 2008 scaled up their venues and plans as their economy and resources got more might

Sydney 2000 scaled up as well, despite the IOC telling them not to

Salt Lake City 2002 used a good mix of existing and new venues.

Torino 2006 used spread-out existing venues, and converted existing structures for a new use.

People tend to have a short-term memory of these things, the IOC pickes what is needed at the time, or what is geopolitically important. Such as going to China and Russia. 2020 is a choice between 3 cities that have many of the venues is place and would generally be considered a mixed bid, unlike a Sochi which was a complete new build bid, or a Paris which was a little-build bid.

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Thought this interview with Ron Clarke might be fuel for a bit of discussion:

Interview: IOC should award Olympic Games to countries instead of cities

CANBERRA, Sept. 26 (Xinhua) -- The man who lit the cauldron at the Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games as a 19 year old running prodigy said in a recent interview with Xinhua that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) should amend its charter and award Games to countries, not cities.

Australian middle to long distance running legend Ron Clarke said the costs of staging an Olympic Games have become so burdensome that social unrest is almost inevitable where the costs of infrastructure and ceremonies are too great for a single city." There is not a municipality in the world that can afford to pay for the infrastructure necessary for the staging of an Olympics and the huge cost associated with the actual staging of a Games," the dual Olympian and 19-time world record holder said at his home on Queensland's Gold Coast earlier this week.

"The trouble is that a lot of these excessive costs are more to do with pomp and ceremony than the sporting competitions themselves."

"In 1956 in Melbourne, the Opening Ceremony cost organizers well under 1,000 U.S. dollars, while last year at London the cost escalated to 200 million U.S. Dollars."

"In Rio in 2016, sixty years after Melbourne's Games, the costs of the Opening Ceremony will be the single most expensive item in the Organizing Committee's budget," he said.

Clarke said the IOC should restrict entrant numbers in Olympic sports events from each competing nation to one.

He said the International Olympic Committee needs to decide whether the Games are an athletics completion or a showcase and amend its charter accordingly.

He is also keen on new sports being introduced into future Games, but has called for restrictions on the numbers of athletes from the same country in each event.

"I have no problems with expansion of the number of different sports in an Olympics it should be a celebration of sports from throughout the world incorporating as many cultures, peoples, races and countries as possible - within the reach of all social classes," he said. "But rather than have three sprinters from the USA in the track and field 100m, or three distance runners from Kenya in the 5,000m and 10,000m, or even three swimmers from Australia in the 100m backstroke, it would be fairer if only one from each country could enter." "This would mean medals would be shared among more competing nations, it would streamline the numbers of events with fewer heats and semi-finals and reduce the demand on the organizers to continually increase the field sizes. There would also be fewer team tactics predetermining results."

Clarke said the IOC needs to take some significant actions to ensure the Olympic movement continues to grow and welcome new sports into its programs while ensuring all countries compete on an equal footing.

"The numbers of participants should not become so cumbersome as to make the costs of staging a Games beyond the economies of more than a few very rich nations," he said.

Clarke's recommendations to the IOC include capping the expenditure by any country on the Opening Ceremony to 100 million U.S. dollars, limiting entries in any event from any country to one, continuing to increase the numbers of participant sports, but reducing the number of events in any particular sport.

Xinhua

A few thoughts. I'm not keen on the idea of a "country-wide" games. I still like the notion of the central host city - which still leaves scope for some sports, as we already see often with sailing, football or equestrian - to go to other cities.

I think Ron's a bit off kilter with his comments that he doesn't mind new sports being added, but that competitors should be limited to one per country. Don't see how that would save that much expense - surely the big cost would be in the venues needed, rather than how many athletes are using those venues?

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When there is an apparent shortage of cities willing to step up to host the Summer Olympics - then we can discuss such an idea. As it is, there is no shortage of cities wanting to take on the job.

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A winter games approach - the anchor 'ice' city + the mountain cluster a few hours apart - could alleviate the stress on a single municipality hosting the summer games. The compactness of recent venue plans, in spite of the thrilling atmosphere, may be one of the main causes of the heavy construction budget and subsequent underuse of olympic sports venues. The games won't die if shared by two or more cities in the same metro area and taxpayers may find much better to spend their taxes on higways and subway lines in and between their metro areas than pouring billions in highly clustered sports parks in a single city.

My guess is the Winter Games will be affected first by such crisis Clarke proposes.

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While not exactly country wide, the OWG has embraced a regionalised Olympic model far more than the SOG has - mainly due to the nature of the event, and the type of hosts it attracts. The Winter Olympics really do give you a good feel for the host region - Summer doesn't quite give you this - it is usually concentrated entirely on the host city -- and even only a certain part of it (the Olympic Park).

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This old chestnut again. Ya know, for all the talk around here about which places would have the "best vibe or atmosphere" for the Games, this notion of awarding the Olympics to "countries" instead of cities would create the total opposite effect. This isn't the World Cup, where many large stadiums are needed (that no one city has) to play the soccer matches.

What makes the Olympics so special in the first place, is how virtually the entire event is mainly in one general area, creating that special vibe & atmosphere. Take that away, & the Olympics become very diluted & non-special. Wouldn't be any different then than just a regular world championship anywhere else. We already have some events that are away from the host city, due to the nature of those particular events. So I really don't see the need or the desire of spreading everything else around.

And yeah, it seems that many nations go all out nowadays on the "pomp & show", but how does despersing everything save on that, particularly on the ceremonies, like mentioned in the article. Regardless, that one element would still be a very high-ticket item on any Olympic budget due to the host nations huge desire to "impres the world". I think this man is errouneously comparing 1956 prices with today's 2013 price tags. Just like with everything else, things are more expensive nowadays than they were 55 years ago. How much was a gallon of gas back then. A quarter? I just don't see how much "cheaper" the Games could be without there being a total overhaul of the Olympic Program, by cutting some redundant sports, & therefore cutting some venues. Other than that, I just don't see it without compromising the true Olympic experience.

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Thought this interview with Ron Clarke might be fuel for a bit of discussion:

A few thoughts. I'm not keen on the idea of a "country-wide" games. I still like the notion of the central host city - which still leaves scope for some sports, as we already see often with sailing, football or equestrian - to go to other cities.

I think Ron's a bit off kilter with his comments that he doesn't mind new sports being added, but that competitors should be limited to one per country. Don't see how that would save that much expense - surely the big cost would be in the venues needed, rather than how many athletes are using those venues?

Well, in effect, the IOC is awarding the Games to countries because they're asking for a very high level of federal commitment. If Tokyo were really just a "city bid," the prime minister wouldn't have come.

I also think the idea of one competitor per nation is a terrible one. The Olympics are meant to showcase the best talent in the world. As it is, legitimate medal contenders don't make the cut. His example of three Americans in the 100m final is also off-base. These days it's Jamaicans. The Jamaicans will never be great gymnasts or great table tennis players. Let them shine in the sport that they're best at. If they've got the three fastest men or women in the world, then they should all be at the Olympic Games.

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Exactly. One athlete per nation per event would mean some really good competitors wouldn't be there! And as Rols has already said, limiting the field isn't going to end up cutting costs much. You still need the venue. If anything, I would think fewer athletes would mean fewer tickets and even less chance of breaking even.

And actually, I don't see much wrong with only the richer countries being able to host either. As long as the bar isn't too high, this is only natural.

Unfortunately, the biggest black hole for host cities is the security budget - and you're not getting any legacy from that. It's extremely difficult to defend spending nearly £1bn on security for a month's sport. Post 9/11 Olympics have this to deal with so any solutions to reduce this cost would be the most welcome suggestion.

Edited by RobH

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I mean there really are redundant and sports of limited appeal: I mean, field hockey, team handball, judo-taekwondo, white-water rafting...c'mon. Who will miss those? Badminton / tennis /squash...just pick one. Less sports also mean less spaces at the Village and less training sites; even perhaps a 15% decrease in the traffic amongst the Villages and the sites. 20 sports is PLENTY enough entertainment!

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"But rather than have three sprinters from the USA in the track and field 100m, or three distance runners from Kenya in the 5,000m and 10,000m, or even three swimmers from Australia in the 100m backstroke, it would be fairer if only one from each country could enter." "This would mean medals would be shared among more competing nations, it would streamline the numbers of events with fewer heats and semi-finals and reduce the demand on the organizers to continually increase the field sizes. There would also be fewer team tactics predetermining results."

I can't understand what he wants to say here

if the best 3,4 or 5 athletes in particular event in any sport are from the same country only one of them can participate in the Olympic games ?

that means we will be able to predict the results as only one of the best athletes in that event is here

we all know the second, third best athletes who should be on the podium are watching the event from their homes because of the " one athlete per country rule"

prevent the best athletes from participating in the games because of their nationality ?
where is the fairness here ?
the competition will be weak, boring, predictable result, the best are not here, less excitement olympic event
I don't agree with the qualification part either
there is a lot of athletes who are not in the level to competing for the medals especially in sports like what he mentioned swimming and athletics
but they work hard for years just to be in the Olympic games .. they will be happy even if they take part only in the early rounds of the competition
why prevent them? they will not increase the organizing committee budget that much!
this idea is against the athletes and will reflect negatively on the Olympic Games.

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And yeah, it seems that many nations go all out nowadays on the "pomp & show", but how does despersing everything save on that, particularly on the ceremonies, like mentioned in the article. Regardless, that one element would still be a very high-ticket item on any Olympic budget due to the host nations huge desire to "impres the world". I think this man is errouneously comparing 1956 prices with today's 2013 price tags. Just like with everything else, things are more expensive nowadays than they were 55 years ago. How much was a gallon of gas back then. A quarter? I just don't see how much "cheaper" the Games could be without there being a total overhaul of the Olympic Program, by cutting some redundant sports, & therefore cutting some venues. Other than that, I just don't see it without compromising the true Olympic experience.

Furthermore, Ron Clarke blindly (or ignorantly) doesn't mention that the fiscal conservatives of 1950s Melbourne had a very public freakout over the potential cost of executing the 1949 bid proposal, and its relative benefit, and scaled down the Games plans - perhaps the first Olympic host to do so, and somewhat dodged being a Australian Montreal, 20 years earlier. Money did matter. The Games were already an expensive endeavour at this time - particularly for Australia which was still in a daze from a very expensive war with Japan.

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I'm sure I remember seeing that Melbourne started planning a new athletics stadium but dumped that & used the G instead. Or was that the 06 Commies?

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I'm sure I remember seeing that Melbourne started planning a new athletics stadium but dumped that & used the G instead. Or was that the 06 Commies?

It was 1956.

The original bid called for a modernist grecian Olympic Park built on the site of the current Royal Showgrounds (not an entirely bad idea). The centrepiece of this venue cluster would be a 100k+ capacity coliseum in the style of LA/Berlin . The cost, and industrial disputes (and issues with the Royal Agricultural Society) saw the plan downsized with a new stadium at Princes Park. Then more financial/industrial problems saw a renovated MCG used instead. Sensible- a city of 2 million didn't need two 100k+ capacity stadiums.

Basically Melbourne had aspirations to hold a bold and majestic Olympics like the ones seen in the 1930s, but eventually it's 1950s staid Britishness got the better of it and it delivered London 1948, mk2

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