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The Anti-Olympic Movement


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Anti-Olympic Movement has existed lot of years ago.

Exactly, it's not like it's a new phenomenum. At the height of bidding popularity, in the 90s, Sydney had them, the German's showed their talent at it and scratched Berlin 2000, the Norwegians were anti-IOC right up to the start of Lillehammer etc ad nauseum.

So, at this time we have the Bavarians bailing out of a bid, yet we still have six bidders. The "sky's falling" reaction here probably says more about our personal preferences about who we'd like to see bid, than any crisis about to kill the games.

I blame social media.

Edited by Sir Rols
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Indeed it's not a new phenomenon, but while in the past, these people could be brushed aside as tree huggers etc., they are now an integral part of society in quite a few countries that would clearly have the capacity to host. There are valid concerns raised and shouldn't be ignored.

Yes, there are six bidders now, but truth is also two very strong ones pulled the plug before the start because people didn't want it.

And who made the anti-movement strong? Sorry, but that's the IOC itself because of some, let's say questionable, behaviour over the years.

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The movements are sorted into 3 types;

  • Political + world peace
  • Nature protecting
  • Domestic issues( social welfare etc.)
What else do we see?

4. Strong opposition to contracts opposed by IOC, general scepticism towards international sports organisations.

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The Anti Olympic movement has existed since many years ago, specially after the olympics became unsustainable after the trainwreck that was Montreal. Amsterdam bid in 1992 for example, had a huge opossition in their country, even from very important dutch figure. And I believe the Stockholm 2004 and Helsinki 2006 bids also suffered of a similar fate

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I see two very different types of anti-Olympians.

First, are the nationalistic folks who are opposed to the Olympics in general. Same folks are worried about black helicopters from the UN.

The second group is OK with the Olympic ideal, but believe that have become too bloated, expensive, damaging, etc.

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I blame social media.

That's exactly what I was thinking. These types of protests and anti-Olympic movements have been around forever, but they get more attention now because of social media and the 24 hour news cycles we now have. Virtually every bid, including those that won, have had to deal with opposition. And I agree with zeke that a lot of it lately is a response to the Beijings and Sochis that are spending tens of billions of dollars, somewhat unnecessarily, and making you wonder if future bids and bidders have to hold themselves up to those standards. The funny thing is.. London staged a very successful games on the heels of Beijing. Of course they spent a lot of money, but it's not like they felt the need to match watch Beijing did. So too will PC be in that position after Sochi. That the IOC went with a 'safe' pick in Tokyo seems to be an indication that you don't need to go so far over the top to win it.

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That's exactly what I was thinking. These types of protests and anti-Olympic movements have been around forever, but they get more attention now because of social media and the 24 hour news cycles we now have. Virtually every bid, including those that won, have had to deal with opposition. And I agree with zeke that a lot of it lately is a response to the Beijings and Sochis that are spending tens of billions of dollars, somewhat unnecessarily, and making you wonder if future bids and bidders have to hold themselves up to those standards. The funny thing is.. London staged a very successful games on the heels of Beijing. Of course they spent a lot of money, but it's not like they felt the need to match watch Beijing did. So too will PC be in that position after Sochi. That the IOC went with a 'safe' pick in Tokyo seems to be an indication that you don't need to go so far over the top to win it.

I think a distinction needs to be made between the Summer and Winter Games. It is still very much possible to stage the Summer Games at a reasonable cost without a host of white elephants afterward. As more events are added to the Winter Games, it's becoming less possible to keep costs under control. PC will be spending much less than Sochi, but they're still going to be spending billions and billions of dollars on venues that will have almost no use after the Games. The only ways to keep costs under control for the Winter Games is to hold them in countries that will actually use the venues after the Games (and almost none of these countries seem to be interested) or to stage them in cities that have hosted the Games previously and already have the rinks, skiing centers, and sliding track in place.

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The biggest problem is the IOC's preference (demand?) for grand, better-than-state-of-the-art venues.

A long track speed-skating rink is one of those things that nobody needs. Nowadays the IOC wants a super high tech venue that costs $$$$. When Erik Heiden won five gold medals, it was held at the local high-school football stadium where they flooded the field to create a skating track.

Big buck venues may bring world records (which everyone loves) but the sport isn't any better, the olympic ideals aren't compromised. But the IOC wants their grand vision, and doesn't care who has to pay for it.

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There isn't an anti-Olympic movement per se but there are two things going on politically:

I can say with near certainty that had we a Conservative government in 2003, a London bid wouldn't have happened. People on the right of the economic spectrum are suspicious of large, state-funded building projects on the whole, and we see this taken to its extreme in the US where economic liberalism is strongest. All US bids now have an automatic disadvantage in that they're not going to get central government funding guarantees. And the same problem came with the economic austerity of Monti's Italy that killed off Rome 2020. Getting low-tax, small-state governments to back Olympic bids is hard going.

On the other side of the coin you've got the social-left. These are the people who protest against DOW, who hate the commercialism, who worry about workers' rights and the environment. They increasingly see the Games as a over-bloated shrine to Capitalism and something, therefore, to repel. The more radical also see the Games as a high-profile target for protest, which will gain media attention.

There is a certain irony that the economically liberal, capitalist right are suspicious of the Games because they're too centralised and require state-funding, whilst at the same time people at the other end of the political spectrum accuse the Games of being too capitalist. And this is the tightrope the IOC has to walk. You either increase sponsorship which will annoy the social-left-wingers, increase taxpayer burden which will annoy the economic liberals, go to places many people don't like but whose government and population will happily host your event, or reduce the size of the Games.

Or you let the criticism come and plough on regardless.

It's not that surprising when you've got a pincer movement from left and right that groups like Munich's NOlympia have an easy time of getting people to vote no to a Games. Shouting about the benefits is hard when, from most political angles and whatever your viewpoint, there are reasons to dislike the Games. It takes some courage and vision to get the positive points across and certainly in London's case, it wasn't until quite close to the Games that most of the city was on board. A vote in 2003 would likely have ended up the same way Munich's did.

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I don't think you'd ever get an Olympic bid through a referendum in a democracy. It's so easy for the no campaign to go bare bones & say:

Do you want to spend millions of tax $ & go through 7 years of disruption for a 2 week party that you probably won't be able to go to anyway?

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I don't think you'd ever get an Olympic bid through a referendum in a democracy. It's so easy for the no campaign to go bare bones & say:

Do you want to spend millions of tax $ & go through 7 years of disruption for a 2 week party that you probably won't be able to go to anyway?

Oslo shows that you can get a positive referendum. But yes, it's a very tough battle. I believe in democracy, but not in referendums, on whatever subject. Very easy for populist arguments simplifying complex issues - why do we vote in an election anyway, if the politicians later on don't want to take the decisions? It's good to consult the people affected, but there will always be a lot of people who don't care/don't vote and in the end the referendum (again, not only about Olympics) is decided by a loud minority.

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I believe in democracy, but not in referendums, on whatever subject. Very easy for populist arguments simplifying complex issues - why do we vote in an election anyway, if the politicians later on don't want to take the decisions? It's good to consult the people affected, but there will always be a lot of people who don't care/don't vote and in the end the referendum (again, not only about Olympics) is decided by a loud minority.

I would like to turn your attention to that the mean of a referendum is part of democracy - nobody would say that e.g. Switzerland is not a democracy, since it holds a lot of referendums...

Over the years I learned that national/regional elections are not enough for me to express my voice in our democracy, since on one han you can't take the election programs of the different parties granted, since they are changed by coalition talks afterwards and on the other hand I don't agree with all points of the election programs of the different parties. I vote for the party with which I have the most common sense, but that doesn't mean that I voted for the party, due the complete election program - therefore I can't agree with a politician, who is claiming that the party was elected just because of the point out of the election program, which fits in that moment with his task - furthermore the points in an election program isn't really detailed - e.g. "Stuttgart 21" was a great idea in the 80s, but the station, which is built now, is just a joke. I would have voted for a party, which wanted to build Stuttgart 21, but I would have voted against this station, which is built now...

The same is with the "U4" in Hamburg - I support the building of new underground lines in Hamburg, but the new U4 is a politically planned line, which doesn't fulfill the transportation tasks of a good planned line... Or the "speed-up" program of the bus system in Hamburg by the SPD government is just another joke - the SPD is doing a mistake again, since the party doesn't want to admit a failure in its program (in their program stood that they want to make a general plan about transportation, but that they don't want to invest in new lines etc. etc. wasn't mentioned in the program)

I hope I made clear why I support referendums - an election program is only worth for politicians who don't want to be controlled by the voters during the legislation period.

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Oslo shows that you can get a positive referendum. But yes, it's a very tough battle. I believe in democracy, but not in referendums, on whatever subject. Very easy for populist arguments simplifying complex issues - why do we vote in an election anyway, if the politicians later on don't want to take the decisions? It's good to consult the people affected, but there will always be a lot of people who don't care/don't vote and in the end the referendum (again, not only about Olympics) is decided by a loud minority.

Why was Oslo about to get a majority but not Munich? Did they just want it more? Did they express their argument better? I read an article today where some Norwegian is saying how great the Oslo bid will be because they will only spend 1/10 of Sochi. They used Sochi's spending figures to their advantage by making Oslo look better by comparison. Maybe Munich's voters wouldn't buy that argument?

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Why was Oslo about to get a majority but not Munich? Did they just want it more? Did they express their argument better? I read an article today where some Norwegian is saying how great the Oslo bid will be because they will only spend 1/10 of Sochi. They used Sochi's spending figures to their advantage by making Oslo look better by comparison. Maybe Munich's voters wouldn't buy that argument?

I believe that the vast majority in Munich wants to hold Olympic Games, but not under the condition that they are bound under the rule of an undemocratic club with unclear structures

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Do it wasn't a vote against the Olympics but a vote against the IOC in Munich.

Yes, that seems to be the main cause for NO votes.

Again about referendums, of course they are a part of democracy, but I have serious doubts whether there will always be a sufficuent number of voters able to form an educated opinion on a particular, very complex subject. As I said, populist simplification quite often gives an outcome that doesn't do justice to the issue at stake.

The NO campaign in Munich had very good arguments that were worth debating (and countering), but it all boiled down to "IOC is evil, they want our money." This overshadowed everything else.

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I wonder if there's an anti-FIFA World Cup movement. Even though soccer/football is supposedly the most popular singular sport in the world, staging the World Cup is as much an undertaking as the Olympics and can be fraught with the same complications.

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I think there's a little equation to go by. The freer the country, the more 'anti-Olympic' their voice appears. The more authoritarian, the more 'pro-Olympic' the voice appears. That doesn't mean these countries are completely for or against the Olympics...but it just reflects an honest skepticism and concerns for overextending their resources.

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I think a lot of it is misinformation and misunderstanding of the IOC.

The IOC recieves no financial benefit from the Games beyond the use of what funds are necessary to run the organization, the sponsorship money goes directly to to host cities and the associated federations. I bet you most Vancouverites would be unaware that the IOC provided 100's of millions in funding for the Games.

The IOC makes two mistakes. One is not having enough athletes, former athletes and federation officials as members of the IOC and two they usually vote for a gradiose bid (which worked in London's favour as well).

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I think there's a little equation to go by. The freer the country, the more 'anti-Olympic' their voice appears. The more authoritarian, the more 'pro-Olympic' the voice appears. That doesn't mean these countries are completely for or against the Olympics...but it just reflects an honest skepticism and concerns for overextending their resources.

Of course...but you see support numbers of 95%+ in the bid phase and that does make you wonder, is that really right? Three options:

  • There's widespread support for putting their country on the map amongst the population
  • Very effective propaganda which is unopposed in the media
  • The numbers are all madey-uppy.

I'm trying to think back but can't really remember, which bids have had the geratest discrepencies between the nation's polling numbers and the IOC's polls. Not that that necessarily tells us anything either, as people in certain countries might feel pressured even to answer a simple survey in one way over another.

Edited by Rob.
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Anyone who thinks that polls with 90+ results are not manipulated needs a reality check, sorry. In democratic countries, these might be spun by interest groups who pay the polling institutes, in non-democratic countries, it goes without saying that these polls are made up.

I've seen an 80+ figure in the Krakow thread - well, maybe there is indeed a lot of support in Poland for the bid, but I can also imagine that such a poll can be tweaked a bit here and there, so it may be a clear majority in favour, but a few extra % might not do harm for PR purposes.

I'm a but of acynic, I know ;-)

bit of a cynic...argh, typing too fast

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