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Thread: Olympic Games Symbolize Hope... Is it Worth the Cost?

  1. #1

    Default Olympic Games Symbolize Hope... Is it Worth the Cost?

    So here we are in the midst of another Olympics Games. I haven't been watching it much, but a headline in a local newspaper caught my attention:

    "Olympic Games Symbolize Hope"

    It was one of those feel-good articles stating that the Rio de Janeiro Games will be 'extraordinary' and provide the world with a sense of hope: Hope in that a struggling country can take its place on the world stage. Hope for young people who aspire to be the best in the world. Hope that we can rejoice in the spirit of sport and set our global differences aside.

    The reality is that the preamble leading up to these games is hauntingly familiar, and Brazil is just the latest host country to be underprepared for the Olympics; Broken infrastructure promises, cost overruns, evictions of thousands of low income people, and semi-completed venues are the norm for most countries that have taken the Olympics. Rio has deployed 85,000 security forces and they will likely require more. In most countries, including our own Vancouver Olympics, it is the cost overruns around security, and overly optimistic predictions of tourism that have led to cancellation of the proposed benefits from the games. The infrastructure promises that the Athlete's Village will be converted into social housing are never fulfilled due to cost overruns,, and are instead sold off as expensive condominiums. For the housing and athletic venues, the developers reap a windfall of profits, while the government and taxpayers are left to pay for it.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexreim.../#40ecfb976781

    Brazil, which is already suffering from the collapse of oil prices and political scandals, will feel the financial effects of these games long after the games have reached a 'successful conclusion' and the IOC has left town with it's pockets stuffed with cash. The Brazilian government set aside 12 billion dollars for these games in the middle of an economic crisis, diverting funds from healthcare and education. The government has displaced more than 77,000 people to demolish low income housing for construction of the athletic venues.

    Due to the history of countries left with staggering costs as a result of hosting the Olympics, the IOC is having a harder time finding countries with an interest in bidding for the games, forcing the IOC to partner with authoritarian regimes, by awarding the games to China in 2008 and Russia in 2012 (the 2022 Winter Olympics will return to Beijing).

    The IOC's 'commitment to hosting green games' should also have people shaking their heads in wonder. What commitment? It's hard to believe they're being environmentally sensitive when the athletes will be swimming or rowing in water contaminated with feces and garbage.

    Speaking personally, as an individual who has overcome depression, alcoholism to became a competitive marathon runner, I really do want to see the stories of people overcoming adversity to become the best in the world, I just don't think that is what the Olympics is about, at least not in this century. I do believe the Olympics really were started to foster a mutual understanding and friendship through friendly competition and fair play. At some point, however, the games were taken over by sheer gluttony and avarice. The Olympics has moved from being a venerated, respected symbol of hope to being managed by an organization that is unaccountable, incompetent and corrupt. The five rings represent a mega sports entertainment empire which is tightly controlled and sold to the highest bidder. Perhaps when the value diminishes, the Olympics will return to its goals of promoting peace and being a real 'symbol of hope.'
    Last edited by Starrunner; 07-Aug-2016 at 23:21.

  2. #2

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    I like the idea of the Olympics but I don't like it much in practice. I hated the games as a kid because they interrupted my regular TV viewing. As an adult, that's no longer a problem but I never really got the hang of enjoying sports. The few times I've tried, the coverage was bad on the less popular competitions that sparked some of my interest. I find it easier to tune most of it out. It seems to me like the whole concept needs some retooling, but since I'm clearly not the target audience, I'm at a loss to make a good suggestion for repair.

  3. #3

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    Similar to Trev, here.
    To me, sportspeeps are just a bunch of useless wasters who're taking up valuable resources whilst giving no end in return.
    Not that I don't admire the effort they put in, but it's all worthless.
    Perhaps if medals and rewards were given to those who actually did something (like, the workers who built the stadiums), then something worthwhile could be said to have been done.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trevor View Post
    I hated the games as a kid because they interrupted my regular TV viewing. As an adult, that's no longer a problem but I never really got the hang of enjoying sports.
    Interesting, heh. I'm not a sports nut, nor even a casual fan. I've always considered sports fans something of a mystery, actually. At the same time, I actually kind of liked the Olympics as a kid. I can remember being semi-glued to the 1984 Summer Games. I think it had a lot to do with the four-year cadence. As a kid, any event of such a low frequency was interesting to me--like the appearance of Halley's Comet a couple of years later in 1986. (And four years wasn't much different than 75 years to my less-than-ten-year-old brain.) I could sense the added excitement and anticipation, and I could feed off of that in a very abstract way. The subject matter was secondary.

    I haven't followed these games at all, though. I haven't watched a single event, and I'll admit: I pretty much don't care. I've got other things going on.

    In fact, somewhat embarrassingly, I think the last time I paid close attention to any Olympics was when we had the whole Nancy Kerrigan / Tonya Harding scandal at the 1994 Winter Games.

    ---

    Now, with that rather clear bias out there: No, I don't think the Olympics are worth the cost. It's too easy for me to draw parallels with things like schools canceling art programs to help fund the construction of stadiums. As indicated by the OP, Brazil is an economic catastrophe at the moment, and seeing it struggle to pull these games together should make everybody wonder: What, among its many more-pressing problems, might have been solved instead?

    Moreover, I would suggest that the games simply aren't the showcase of global unity and sport that they used to be. The internet's all-around shrinkage of the world has made any sort of global event quite a bit smaller and less interesting than it used to be, IMO. On top of that, we have other global sports leagues now. If I was an athlete specializing in some otherwise-arcane Olympic sport, would I want the Olympics as an opportunity to prove my prowess? You bet! But otherwise, ehhhh... Just not seeing where they really benefit anybody else--except certain local businesses.
    Last edited by Cottontail; 07-Aug-2016 at 21:17.

  5. #5

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    My kids, when they were young, sponsored their own competitive games and it gave me this incredible feeling of hope. I hoped they didn't kill each other. As for the real Olympics, I'm left with the bitter memories of past Olympics from the '50s, '60s and '70's when the judging seemed to be done exclusively by the Russians and the East Germans. Everything was rigged. There was an article in The Washington Post not too long ago. An East German female past Olympiad admitted to being forced into a sex change, male to female so he could compete as a female. I wonder how many others that happened to?

    I have to agree with Starrunner. As long as I can remember, the Olympics have been corrupted by political propaganda, greed and avarice. I enjoy and appreciate the many great athletes who put themselves out there and do incredible things. Too bad the Olympics aren't always about them, though more recently I would say it's mostly about them. I do think things have improved, but one has to think way too much money is being spent on running, swimming and playing with a ball.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by ade View Post
    Similar to Trev, here.
    To me, sportspeeps are just a bunch of useless wasters who're taking up valuable resources whilst giving no end in return.
    Not that I don't admire the effort they put in, but it's all worthless.
    You could also invalidate most of the fine and performing arts (painting, sculpting, movies, television series, etc) by the same logic. They produce nothing tangible.

    - - - Updated - - -



    Quote Originally Posted by Cottontail View Post
    Now, with that rather clear bias out there: No, I don't think the Olympics are worth the cost. It's too easy for me to draw parallels with things like schools canceling art programs to help fund the construction of stadiums. As indicated by the OP, Brazil is an economic catastrophe at the moment, and seeing it struggle to pull these games together should make everybody wonder: What, among its many more-pressing problems, might have been solved instead?
    I think Brasil is an extreme example in this case, though. It's clear that the money spent on the 2016 Summer Games and the 2015 World Cup is money the Brazilians don't have and won't recoup. It speaks volumes that a major segment of the Opening Ceremonies had dancers performing on a set designed after tenement buildings. Russia was a similar example though not nearly as extreme. Contrast that to Atlanta and Sydney. Both cities already had good facilities in place and a lot of the investment made was spent on improving public infrastructure- roads, mass transit facilities, etc- and these investments have excellent ongoing residual value. While there are certainly too many ways to tabulate the costs and revenues of the games, clicking through a few sources makes it pretty clear that these games may well have been pretty darn profitable for their cities. The Winter Olympics are also a somewhat different matter considering they're significantly smaller and are often sent to cities for whom tourism is the raison d'etre.

    Sochi and Rio de Janeiro were both horrible places to host the Olympics because they have at best weak economies (with low ability to finance major construction projects) and lack the industry to support large-scale relatively rapid development. Beijing has these advantages and did an excellent job preparing for and administering its Olympics (outdoor events a notable exception due to air pollution, but they solved that by having some events off-site). Atlanta and Sydney also did well. I'm willing to watch how the administration of the upcoming games in Tokyo and Pyeongchang go before settling on the Olympics as being a regularly-predictable debacle in public planning.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Starrunner View Post
    "Olympic Games Symbolize Hope"

    It was one of those feel-good articles stating that the Rio de Janeiro Games will be 'extraordinary' and provide the world with a sense of hope: Hope in that a struggling country can take its place on the world stage. Hope for young people who aspire to be the best in the world. Hope that we can rejoice in the spirit of sport and set our global differences aside.
    Its still that way for individual athletes and teams. Having known and even trained with a few Olympians, the Olympics is still the pinnacle, and Olympians I've known present an image worth emulating. It's been marred somewhat by the addition of professionals in some sports, and the odd drug scandal, but for the most part, Olympic athletes are upstanding people. Despite the medal counts and media hype, its more about the pursuit than the podium for most Olympians.



    The reality is that the preamble leading up to these games is hauntingly familiar, and Brazil is just the latest host country to be underprepared for the Olympics; Broken infrastructure promises, cost overruns, evictions of thousands of low income people, and semi-completed venues are the norm for most countries that have taken the Olympics. Rio has deployed 85,000 security forces and they will likely require more. In most countries, including our own Vancouver Olympics, it is the cost overruns around security, and overly optimistic predictions of tourism that have led to cancellation of the proposed benefits from the games. The infrastructure promises that the Athlete's Village will be converted into social housing are never fulfilled due to cost overruns,, and are instead sold off as expensive condominiums. For the housing and athletic venues, the developers reap a windfall of profits, while the government and taxpayers are left to pay for it.
    In my mind the spectacle and shenanigans involved in selecting and putting together the venue is separate and distinct from the competition itself. An entirely different event involving an entity (IOC) with a monopoly on a valuable entertainment property. As one might expect, the organization and individuals milk it for all its worth, sometimes for personal gold and glory like Jacques Rogge. On the other side, you have government officials with their own agendas, and as is often true with public officials, a poor understanding of how to control costs and turn a profit, or rather, how to turn a profit for their city rather than themselves.

    Its not reasonable to expect the Olympics to be everything to everybody. You don't hold an Olympics to provide low-income housing, although politicians promise all sorts of nonsense to get elected or get one of their pet projects going. Despite that, a major construction project in a metropolitan area does provide jobs. That's a good thing. Whether it ends up expensive condos or a new slum afterwards isn't all that relevant and has little to do with the Olympics. Housing is housing, and the market will sort it out. You can't legislate that without increasing the cost even more.




    Brazil, which is already suffering from the collapse of oil prices and political scandals, will feel the financial effects of these games long after the games have reached a 'successful conclusion' and the IOC has left town with it's pockets stuffed with cash. The Brazilian government set aside 12 billion dollars for these games in the middle of an economic crisis, diverting funds from healthcare and education. The government has displaced more than 77,000 people to demolish low income housing for construction of the athletic venues.
    Everybody was whining about the third world always being shorted by the Olympics, now they're whining about the inevitable results. Yes, inevitable. Anyone who didn't see this coming, please raise your hand. Yes, I'm an athlete, and I might've liked to attend a couple of events, but all things considered I'm glad Chicago didn't get 2016.



    Due to the history of countries left with staggering costs as a result of hosting the Olympics, the IOC is having a harder time finding countries with an interest in bidding for the games, forcing the IOC to partner with authoritarian regimes, by awarding the games to China in 2008 and Russia in 2012 (the 2022 Winter Olympics will return to Beijing).
    Fine by me. The sports end of it will still be alright, except for my time zone difficulties.



    The IOC's 'commitment to hosting green games' should also have people shaking their heads in wonder. What commitment? It's hard to believe they're being environmentally sensitive when the athletes will be swimming or rowing in water contaminated with feces and garbage.
    Green games? Seriously? In one paragraph you go on about cost overruns, in the next you're talking about padding an already bloated endeavor with more social baggage.



    Speaking personally, as an individual who has overcome depression, alcoholism to became a competitive marathon runner, I really do want to see the stories of people overcoming adversity to become the best in the world, I just don't think that is what the Olympics is about, at least not in this century. I do believe the Olympics really were started to foster a mutual understanding and friendship through friendly competition and fair play. At some point, however, the games were taken over by sheer gluttony and avarice. The Olympics has moved from being a venerated, respected symbol of hope to being managed by an organization that is unaccountable, incompetent and corrupt. The five rings represent a mega sports entertainment empire which is tightly controlled and sold to the highest bidder. Perhaps when the value diminishes, the Olympics will return to its goals of promoting peace and being a real 'symbol of hope.'
    1. Spare me. So many interesting sports left completely uncovered so NBC can cover all the sob stories. If you've ever been a serious athlete, you know the path to the Olympics. 5am swims when you're too sore to roll out of bed on your own. Falling asleep of exhaustion at 9pm. Somehow managing to work 50 hours a week to pay the rent in between workouts. Even those who don't make it to the finals in their events are worthy of admiration. <poetic license alert> To hear NBC tell it, you'd think that one of the qualifications for the Olympics was having a gay transgender black illegal immigrant single parent dying of cancer in a Turkish prison after being deported for a misunderstanding over a little bit of medical marijuana. <end poetic license alert> Always pushing the social agenda. First black this, first woman that. Give me less of Bob Costas' rug and more sports. I was stunned when they actually showed ALL of Katie Ledecky's 400 free. An entire 4 minutes (3:56 and change, actually....) uninteruppted on the ADHD network!!

    2. I think the corruption has always been there, maybe its just gotten more notice.
    Last edited by Maxx; 08-Aug-2016 at 17:27.

  8. #8

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    Canada hosted the summer Olympics in Montréal back in 1976. The facility that was built for the games was referred to as the "Big O" stadium. The debt for the stadium and hosting the games the Olympics wasn't paid off until 2006, thirty years later. It has become known as the "Big Owe" because of the decades it took us to pay for it' The mayor of Montréal during the bidding process to obtain the games admonished his detractors by stating" "The Montreal Olympics can no more have a deficit, than a man can have a baby," Oooooh, how that statement must have come back to bite him http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montre...-over-1.602530


    Even when games are considered to be a 'big success' there is a social cost to the community and broken promises that don't get reported.Canada hosted the Vancouver Winter Olympics and declared it a success, however, a lot of the infrastructure costs were previously allocated in municipal and provincial budgets prior to the city bidding for the games.

    When bidding for the games, Vancouver used its homeless population to shill for the Games. The East Side of Vancouver has a serious problem with homelessness, and one of the key promises to bring housing advocates on board was the promise that the city would use the expected revenues from the Olympics to invest in social housing, to convert the athletes village into affordable housing, and to ensure that no one gets displaced or evicted to make room for the venues. In short, the Olympics were going to be a springboard to solving homelessness.

    Needless to say,none of this happened. Laws were passed in time for the Olympics that violated civil liberties with police given new powers to remove homeless people from the streets and force them into shelters or deposit them away from the Olympic activity.The promises of new affordable housing fell by the wayside when the city realized the games were not as profitable as anticipated, and the units in the Athlete's Village were sold off as condominiums instead of the promised affordable housing.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/20...s-homeless-row

    Also, in spite of the promises not to evict, hundreds of people lost their homes to make way for the Olympics.

    As money was cut for health, social services and education, the government was awarding billions to construction firms and other Olympic related firms. Native populations who laid claim to these grounds for centuries saw their green land ravaged to make way for the destruction of their land. In Britiscsh Columbia,, where Vancouver is located, most of the province is unceded indigenous territory. According to the Royal Proclamation of 1763, which is still part of British and Canadian law, sovereign indigenous territories needed to be legally surrendered to the crown prior to any trade or settlement. The government ignored the law and proceeded to demolish the stolen land.

    http://vancouver.mediacoop.ca/olympi...olen-land/6314

    The labour unions were also brought on side to support the Olympics on the promise that the games would boost employment and create more jobs. After the games were awarded, the unions were betrayed as many of the contracts were outsourced

    http://thetyee.ca/News/2008/06/19/OlympicOutsource/

    Anything can be called a success when you put on the political spin, but when you scratch beneath the surface, you see the people who got run over along the way, in addition to the broken promises based on false assumptions and naïve, overly optimistic projections of surpluses that rarely happen.

    Last edited by Starrunner; 08-Aug-2016 at 16:24.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by ade View Post
    Similar to Trev, here.
    To me, sportspeeps are just a bunch of useless wasters who're taking up valuable resources whilst giving no end in return.
    Not that I don't admire the effort they put in, but it's all worthless.
    Perhaps if medals and rewards were given to those who actually did something (like, the workers who built the stadiums), then something worthwhile could be said to have been done.
    -----tongue in cheek warning------

    But we can kick your [email protected]@ without breaking a sweat, so there is that.....

    ------tongue in cheek warning ended-------

    You must not know any serious amateur athletes. As a group, they're more healthy, driven, goal-oriented and organized than the average Joe. They have to be to fit everything in 24 hours.

    At a place I used to work, several of us did 5 mile lunchtime runs in addition to our other workouts. Sometimes, that plus actually eating ran a little over the allotted hour. On one of those occasions, we ran into the CEO in the hallway. Perhaps noting some guilty expressions, he said "I wish I could make everyone do what you guys do instead of smoking by the back door". Of course he also knew that we were rarely the first ones out the door at 5 as well....

    Its also worth noting that the original Olympics tested very relevant (at the time) martial skills like wrestling, running, spear chukking, archery, equestrian....

    Even today with with all the odd little niche sports, its nice to see competition that doesn't result in refugees and acres of white crosses. Exception this year being the men's and women's cycling road races. That last descent approaching the finish could indeed have been called life or death. If you've ever done downhill turns at 50+ mph in lycra and a styrofoam hat on 19mm racing tires, you know how terrifying that was, and a bunch of people earned ambulance rides. Imagine you're Mara Abbott, in 2nd with a few miles to go.... you round a hairpin turn on a wet road to see your erstwhile competitor crumpled at an awkward angle over a concrete curb...and not moving. Hard to maintain focus for the rest of the descent. I guarantee she wasn't thinking Yippee! I'm in 1st!

    P.S. Katie Ledecky is a beast, and I mean that in the best possible way.

    - - - Updated - - -



    Quote Originally Posted by Starrunner View Post
    Canada hosted the summer Olympics in Montréal back in 1976. The facility that was built for the games was referred to as the "Big O" stadium. The debt for the stadium and hosting the games the Olympics wasn't paid off until 2006, thirty years later.
    Lots of people have 30 year mortgages and consider it a wise investment.....




    Even when games are considered to be a 'big success' there is a social cost to the community and broken promises that don't get reported.Canada hosted the Vancouver Winter Olympics and declared it a success, however, a lot of the infrastructure costs were previously allocated in municipal and provincial budgets prior to the city bidding for the games.

    When bidding for the games, Vancouver used its homeless population to shill for the Games. The East Side of Vancouver has a serious problem with homelessness, and one of the key promises to bring housing advocates on board was the promise that the city would use the expected revenues from the Olympics to invest in social housing, to convert the athletes village into affordable housing, and to ensure that no one gets displaced or evicted to make room for the venues. In short, the Olympics were going to be a springboard to solving homelessness.
    Once again, the liberal blaming the wrong entity. You're blaming the Olympics for your Government problem. Ironic. The same guy who is always calling for MORE government.
    Last edited by Maxx; 08-Aug-2016 at 17:56.

  10. #10

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    A random thought....

    Given modern communications technology, do the Olympics even need to be all in one city or country? For TV viewers, obviously not. For in the flesh spectators, how many that are into swimming will also want to ante up for wrestling or cycling? Given that it's supposed to promote worldwide understanding, why not a worldwide event? Open water swim in Lake Michigan, cycling in Colorado, wrestling in Tehran (naked with olive oil preferably, old school...), Judo in Tokyo, and so on.

    No need for one city or venue to be overtaxed, overburdened, and overcrowded.

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