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Gerhard Heiberg: Winter Olympics must go "back to basics"


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An "exception" means just that, an exception. Why does the word exist in the first place. Just bcuz we make an exception for something (no matter what it is) doesn't mean that we then continue to make them (& especially in the IOC's case, they owe nothing to anyone, regardless). At that point it's no longer an exception, but the norm.

The IOC made an exception with Rio, by having the ceremonies & athletics being seperated for the very first time. Does that mean that the IOC will continue that trend. No, it doesn't. Vancouver also had the first indoor stadium for the Olympics. Have we seen that since then. No, we haven't. So no, just bcuz an exception has been made in one instance, does not necessarily open the door to anymore.

The difference between Sweden & Finland is the logistics. If many cite Sweden's as too challenging, then what of Finland where you then would have no choice but to fly to Lillehammer for the Alpine events. There's still a difference between a 'reasonable' exception, & a totally ridiculous one.

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Maybe Heiberg was also aiming at his compatriots to actually stay in, he might be worried of an Oslo pull out too in face of the megalomania discussions.

That was one of the things I liked about Pyeongchang was ceremonies in ski jumping venue.

Heiberg is marketing director for the IOC. Sounds like he is getting the message that Sochi is "too much." http://www.themalaymailonline.com/sports/article/winter-olympics-must-reduce-cost-says-ioc-m

The point being very few people would make it to both Stockholm and Are anyway. If people aren't expected to travel to both clusters, then it doesn't matter if they're 600 km or 1200 km apart. Taking this a step further, if you might imagine then people WILL travel to both clusters, then who cares if it's a 2 hour plane ride or a 3 hour plane ride away. You won't be back in the same bed by nightfall. This is not a problem for World Cup tourists, it would hardly be the end of the world for Olympic tourists.

You think the IOC world in the 1920s or 1930s would've ever approved of Vancouver-Whistler 80 years later? Things change.

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It's interesting that 80% of people here don't seem to see any way for the IOC to contract the games and bring them back to, say, their 1994 size. It seems that most people have fond memories of that era of the Winter Games and I don't see why the IOC couldn't at least try to achieve that, allowing smaller cities to host again. What would have to be cut in order to get there? Thoughts?

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It's interesting that 80% of people here don't seem to see any way for the IOC to contract the games and bring them back to, say, their 1994 size. It seems that most people have fond memories of that era of the Winter Games and I don't see why the IOC couldn't at least try to achieve that, allowing smaller cities to host again. What would have to be cut in order to get there? Thoughts?

That would be wonderful since it would mean we get more of those fireplace type hosts. But what will be cut, like you say? Whatever you do cut, someone or some federation out there won't be happy. It's so much easier living in ignorance as opposed to having a luxury and then having that taken away from you. That's a good question and I can't even begin to think where they can cut costs on a scale that would make it feasible for a place like Lillehammer to host again.

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The World Cup is just one sport, who have very feverish followers. And who's team get eliminated along the way of the tournament anyway. Back in the 20's & 30's the Winter Games weren't as large as they are when Vancouver 2010 hosted. Things change, but they don't change radically overnight, as even your example illustrates.

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Sochi IS goimg to set the bar pretty high... Is understandable if they may scare future bids. The only issue with new frontiers is they try to impress the world. IOC will start taking more traditional hosts for a while ala London.

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Just because there are more possible hosts doesn't mean they all want to bid. They know that the YOGs are the red-headed stepchild.

I know, it was more of a rhethorical question. I don't even think that there's really more possible hosts. For WYOG, they may be smaller in size but still have to be held in mountainous, cold enough countries. Geography and climate aren't different...

And for SYOG, The IOC is already going off track from its idea to give them to cities never able to host the big ones due to size. Buenos Aires could clearly get proper Summer Games one day. Stop the senseless YOG now, I say.

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Sochi IS goimg to set the bar pretty high... Is understandable if they may scare future bids. The only issue with new frontiers is they try to impress the world. IOC will start taking more traditional hosts for a while ala London.

Haha, I've just come from writing this post and I read this!

As I say, it's amazing how perceptions have changed in the last decade.

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It's interesting that 80% of people here don't seem to see any way for the IOC to contract the games and bring them back to, say, their 1994 size. It seems that most people have fond memories of that era of the Winter Games and I don't see why the IOC couldn't at least try to achieve that, allowing smaller cities to host again. What would have to be cut in order to get there? Thoughts?

For starters, they should cut the "made for U.S. TV" snowboarding and freeskiing events. Slopestyle in particular is especially stupid--any event that involves riding on "rails" should not be in the Olympics. If they want to keep parallel giant slalom and skicross, that's fine--at least those are actual races. But send the halfpipe and slopestyle events back to the X Games where they belong.

They could also condense the men's and women's hockey tournament so that only one arena would be required to host both events. They'd have to cut some teams out of the tournament, but I think it would be worth the savings in not having to build an additional arena that the host city doesn't need.

Ultimately, though, there are so many media, sponsors, and hangers-on at the Winter Games now that I doubt a small city could host again even if they cut the number of athletes and events.

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It's interesting that 80% of people here don't seem to see any way for the IOC to contract the games and bring them back to, say, their 1994 size. It seems that most people have fond memories of that era of the Winter Games and I don't see why the IOC couldn't at least try to achieve that, allowing smaller cities to host again. What would have to be cut in order to get there? Thoughts?

Okay, so what do you want to cut out? Of the approximately 2,500-3,000 athletes that will be in Sochi, which ones do you want to tell that they no longer have a place at the Olympics because the costs have ballooned so far out of control that they are expendable? Maybe it is the snowboard and freestyle ski events that were only brought in to try and reach a younger audience. But how do you tell those athletes that they are welcome in Sochi but not in 2022?

That's the catch-22 for the IOC. They've added all these sports, but not how do they decide what to pull from the program? Eliminating baseball was of no how consequence to that sport. Softball is a little different. And we all know how ridiculous it was when wrestling was voted out but modern pentathlon was saved. How does the IOC try to balance being as inclusionary as possible while reeling in costs so that smaller cities can host? The answer.. maybe they can't. And if they have a place like Sochi willing to pay billions of dollars to host the Winter Olympics, they don't have to. That could come back to haunt them later on, but either way.. to scale down the Olympics to a 1994 level is impossible. Not without cutting out curling, women's hockey, snowboarding, and at least some of short track.

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I think they could potentially eliminate the snowboarding and freeskiing events without causing too much anger. Many of the freeskiiers in particular are not all that thrilled to have their sport in the Olympics, and a lot of snowboarders and freeskiiers still view the X Games as equal if not superior to the Olympics. If their sports were eliminated, those athletes would still have another venue for a major title that predates the inclusion of snowboarding in the Winter Olympics. Hockey also has the world championships in which more countries could participate if the field at the Olympics were to be made smaller.

In the end, though, the IOC has made its bed by expanding the Winter Games, and it's unlikely that there will be a signficant downsizing in the future. Probably the best we can hope for is that the IOC realizes that the Winter Games can't get any larger, and we don't see another expansion of the Winter program going forward.

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If they don't want to axe the program so all the story on compactness should go down too. It's too much to ask from just one or two cities to convert such large required olympic venues into sustainable legacy. A regional based games in the current size means less magic but more legacy.

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Looking at the big picture, even accommodating the media is peanuts compared to transport infrastructure.

Building a high speed rail is Pyeongchang's biggest single expenditure at $3.7 billion, and it looks to be a major cost projection for other newer bids like Beijing-Zhangjiakou.

So this could be a cost some Alpine or Nordic hosts don't have to worry about if their infrastructure is already there.


Which begs the follow-up question: Would the IOC mind taking regular, existing transport if it'll save a host $4 billion in building a high speed rail? Given that the two clusters for 2018 are only 20 minutes anyway as it is, IOC members and athletes only have to worry about getting to Pyeongchang from Incheon/Seoul twice (at the beginning and end of their trips), and that ride might just be a little longer.

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Absolutely disagree with cutting snowboarding and freestyle skiing - as much as costs need to be cut the games need to be relevent and cutting events isn't the way to go about it. It's all about managing venues, budgets and infrastructure plans, while security has probably been one of the biggest costs in the years after 9/11.

The bidding process (both winter and summer) needs to have a higher threshold of existing requirements in order for cities to win the games - and that should help with legacy too by cities having to have venues which are viable before the IOC comes to town, so they should have a long term future and not be the latest in a long line of Olympic White elephants.

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There could also be more use of temporary venues that can be relocated after the games to other places in the host country. For example London's basketball arena could've been taken down & rebuilt in somewhere like Bristol, somewhere that badly needs an arena, & would make good use out of it.

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Frankly, one the biggest deterrents to any potential host is the sliding venue. Stockholm cited it specifically. The world just doesn't need more sliding tracks.

That said, could anyone conceive of cutting bobsled, luge and skeleton? No.

We're saying the Games are too big, but everybody wants to have their cake and eat it too. Just ask the lady ski-jumpers if they want to go back to the Lillehammer program.

It's a real dilemma.

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Maybe they should just cancel the Winter Games as a whole. It's a seasonal event with two many white elephants; (I'm totally kidding, real proposal below.)

As someone who is deeply involved with the organization and design of Disney Resorts an essential component in creating a popular site is functionality, design, atmosphere, and multi-tasking. This is something future hosts and bidders need to place in their planning. The program will not be cut, but what can be cut is having five venues for the same event. Let's say the small American Ski Town of Crested Butte some how won the games and was going to host. Sense billions would be spent on transforming the town into an Olympic ready one, the venue plan can not be extremely expensive. To prevent this you establish a central cluster in the town; this cluster houses seven disciplines in five arenas including the main stadium. In the Mountain Cluster the other seven are held using four venues.

The beautiful thing about the winter games and the reason why they can and should always be intimate events is that so many of the venues can be used so many times, we do not need multiple stadiums or venues for them. What I proposed is a venue plan that uses only 9 total venues to host nearly 70 events (14 disciplines). That's what the IOC needs to promote and what cities need to focus on creating.

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Sliding tracks are expensive if (a) you are building them in places that aren't consistently cold and icy and/or (B) you are trying to build the fastest, bestest highest-tech track ever.

But the Olympics in traditional alpine settings, and allow hosts to build non-cutting edge tracks and the cost goes way down.

Japan built tracks for the '72 and '98 games. The cost in '98 was 25 times greater than in '72! A little bit of that is inflation, but most of is "Olympic" inflation.

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Frankly, one the biggest deterrents to any potential host is the sliding venue. Stockholm cited it specifically. The world just doesn't need more sliding tracks.

That said, could anyone conceive of cutting bobsled, luge and skeleton? No.

Obviously, the Stockholm-Are distance wasn't wildly popular, but I wonder what the reaction would be in the future if a bid city decided to use an existing sliding track that is several hundred miles away. For example, a Denver or Reno bid could use the existing track in Salt Lake, a Swedish bid could use the track in Lillehammer (assuming Are hadn't already been an issue), etc. The sliding sports are relatively minor sports on the Winter Olympic program, and the tracks typically only have about 5,000 spectators. It's one thing to hold alpine skiing hundreds of miles away, but perhaps the IOC would be willing to accept the sliding sports at a distant venue.

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Looking at the big picture, if a host can save 10% of the costs by getting away without building a venue or two, would that make a difference in getting the public behind a bid? The ones that are backing out of bidding (Munich, St. Moritz, Stockholm) are the ones that can already host it cheaper than anyone else. I feel that the naysayers who don't want an Olympics for $ X billion also wouldn't want to host it for $ X minus-1 billion. They want it for free.

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