An open letter to all sports men and woman. (Three minute read)
Now is the time to lobby The IOC to establish a permanent home for the Olympic Games.
Don’t get me wrong I love sport and my congratulations goes to every competitor that competed in the Rio Olympics medal winner or not.
When you realise the cost of the Games and the problems we all face in the world there is a stronger case now than ever before to have a permanent venue for the Games. ( See previous post)
A Summer Olympic Games now costs an average of $5.2bn (at 2015 levels), while the average Winter Olympics costs $3.1bn.
Long after the crowds vanish, it turns out that some host cities and countries ended up taking large net losses on their investments.
No Games since 1960 has come in under budget.
In fact, nearly half have cost overruns of more than 100%. Montreal 1976 had a cost overrun of 720%, Barcelona 1992 of 266% .
The most expensive is London 2012 at $15bn – nearly $10bn above average. London also sits far above second-placed Barcelona 1992 at $9.7bn.
For Rio, the preliminary cost is $4.6bn, with an overrun of 51% in real terms.
A Cost effective level playing field is required in more ways than one.
Never mind the cheats on drugs.
The individual or teams from less wealthy countries have an uphill struggle long before they even contemplate competing.
Take England’s recent success for example.
Second on the medal table.
The nation’s greatest Olympics haul in living memory is built on the ruthless efficiency of Team GB’s “medal machine” coaching team – and National Lottery Millions.
£274million of Lotto cash into our athletes’ programmes in the last four years.. Every aspect of training and preparation for Rio has been fine-tuned, with 900 support staff travelling to Brazil with our 366 athletes.
UK Sport, which determines how public funds raised via the national lottery and tax are allocated to elite-level sport, has pledged almost £350m to Olympic and Paralympic sports between 2013 and 2017, up 11% on the run-up to London 2012
Considering that this is a country where more than a quarter of the population is officially defined as inactive because they do less than 30 minutes of activity a week, including walking.
A country that recently could not support their fellow Europeans because it was costing a few million.. A country that for all intensive purposes has closed its borders to refugees. A country that is slashing its support to the vulnerable citizens.
(Severe cuts to local authority budgets are also squeezing resources at the grassroots level. Councils across England have been forced to make cuts since 2010, when grant funding for local authorities was cut by a fifth, more than twice the level of cuts to the rest of the UK public sector.)
On average, each medal at the Rio Olympics has cost £5.5m.
27 Gold. 23 Silver. 17 Bronze.
Michael Phelps’ entire 23 gold medal haul would net him about $13,000.
In the U.S., gold medal winners get $25,000 ($15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze) from the U.S. Olympic Committee. (Italy pays $182,000 for gold medal winners, whereas Russia pays $135,000)
At a scrap-level value, the award is only worth about $501, since the medal is not entirely made out of gold.
The Olympics are about competition and heroics and national pride.
But they are also about big business and The “Olympic legacy” which might include improvements in infrastructure and increased trade, foreign investment, or tourism after the Games; and intangible benefits such as the “feel-good effect” or civic pride.
The IOC could better serve their constituents by diverting competition away from lavish provision of facilities towards goals that would raise participation in sports….
It is perfectly reasonable for the IOC or the FIFA to extract a surplus from the sale of TV and sponsorship rights to fund the global development of sport. However, the unjustified claim that these events produce substantial economic benefits can (a) mislead people into believing that their taxes are being productively spent on social regeneration rather than just funding mass entertainment, and (b) lead some private individuals to invest their own wealth in the expectation that an event will generate returns when it is unlikely to do so.
A gold medal is so much more than just a hunk of metal, so in that way, they’re irreplaceable.
We can ask all the philosophical questions, which are valid.
What is the point of the Olympics?
The Olympics can be uplifting, entertaining, and distracting. But what, exactly, is the point of watching a group of people get together to compete over running quickly or lifting big weights?
We humans create it and we give meaning to it.
They are a way of bringing people together to get over their differences, focus on their commonality, and break down the boundaries not just between themselves, but also between gods and humans, past and present. It’s very hard to watch the Olympic Games and not be inspired by what humans are capable of and their ability to overcome their political differences.
Play or sport is the closest thing most human beings come to contemplation, to the highest of human activities.
Watching sports takes us out of ourselves.
Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example, social responsibility and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.
The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of man, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.
The structure of sport, where everyone begins at the same starting line and abides by the same rules, means that competitors from every country become equal.
“Aim for excellence” means always doing and giving one’s best.
“In theory,” says Reid, ”everything the Games does is supposed to reflect that philosophy.”
Today, the world of sport is regularly confronted with issues of violence, corruption, discrimination, excessive nationalism, cheating, doping, etc. While these issues are still in a minority, they can be very damaging for athletes, sports institutions and the image of sport in general. By promoting a philosophy of life based on the values of excellence, respect and friendship.
Olympism seeks to correct these abuses and shows that sport can help to build a better world. “Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement”.
“I remain convinced that sport is one of the most forceful elements of peace, and I am confident in its future action.” Pierre de Coubertin
The five rings on a white background make up the Olympic symbol. It was presented at the 17th IOC Session at the Sorbonne in 1914, and was flown for the first time at the 1920 Games in Antwerp. While the interlinked rings symbolise the five continents, the six colours (including the white background) were chosen because they are found in all the flags of the world, so that every country can find at least one of its national colours.
Contrary to popular belief, the colours of the rings do not refer to particular continents but signify their union through sport and the gathering of athletes from all over the world at the Olympic Games.
I believe that Sport in its purest form offers possibilities of dialogue, camaraderie and exchanges of ideas, in a spirit of mutual respect and fair play, which everyone can apply on a daily basis well beyond sports arenas, thus contributing to building a better world!
It is not the place for the Wiggins of this world to be able to compete under the flag of a limited company Wiggins Rights Ltd.
( ANOTHER POST ON WORLD INTELLIGENCE – 4 minute read)
The Olympics are here, and I’m not sure how to feel about it.
This post examines THE INTELLIGENCE OF RETURNING THE OLYMPICS GAMES TO A PERMANENT HOME – RATHER THAN HOST THE GAMES IN A DIFFERENT COUNTRIES EVERY FOUR YEARS.
On the one hand, I’m thrilled that a South American city is hosting the Olympic Games for the first time. In an age of fear and loathing, the Parade of Nations and spectacle of countries competing peacefully is most welcome.
On the other hand, do such benefits justify the Brazilian government and private investors spending somewhere between $12 billion and $20 billion—roughly the gross domestic product of Iceland—to host the Summer Olympics?
Do they justify shelling out all that money on an event that will probably generate only $4 or $5 billion in revenue?
The question is:
Why in this age of technologies should we spend billions to move the greatest sport show around the world when it does not matter where it is held.
The ancient Greeks held the Olympic Games in Olympia, and only Olympia, for centuries.
“This set-up seemed to work fine.”
In the late 19th century, the French intellectual Pierre de Coubertin revived the Olympics, which had lapsed in the fourth century when the Roman Emperor Theodosius banned “pagan cults.”
Coubertin’s intention was to rotate the competition among European and American cities, in an effort to promote “peace” and an “international” spirit.
For much of the twentieth century, the staging of the Olympic Games represented a manageable burden for the host cities. The events were held in developed countries, either in Europe or the United States, and in the era before television broadcasting, hosts didn’t expect to make a profit. Instead, the games were publically funded, with these advanced countries better positioned to bear the costs due to their larger economies and more advanced infrastructure.
In recent years, many Olympic host cities have had to reckon with corruption, ballooning costs, under investment in public services in the run-up to the Games, and projects that don’t help—and sometimes harm—much of the population.
Once the festivities end, cities are frequently left with a load of debt and a bunch of useless mega structures.
How about when the bankrupt Rio government can’t pay for security and other basic services, and when Olympic funds have largely gone toward the construction of stadiums, housing, and subway lines that will benefit the rich more than the poor?are not unique to Brazil.
The jobs created by Olympics construction are often temporary, and unless the host region is suffering from high unemployment, the jobs mostly go to workers who are already employed.
Ultimately, there is little evidence for an overall positive economic impact. Much of the profit brought in by hotels, chain restaurants, and construction firms goes to international companies rather than remaining in the local economy.
A growing number of economists argue that both the short and long-term benefits of hosting the games are at best exaggerated and at worst nonexistent, leaving many host countries with large debts and maintenance liabilities.
Instead, many argue, the bidding and selection process should be reformed to incentivize realistic budget planning, increase transparency, and promote sustainable investments that serve the public interest.
All of this can be achieved by removing many of the autocratic government’s jockeying to host the Olympics these days by returning the Games to their home Greece.
So let’s consider the feasibility of making Greece (the original home of the Olympic Games) once more the host country on a permanent basis and ending the costly Olympics rotation that take many forms.
Of course the choice of a permanent home for the Games would be highly contentious. But such a responsibility could be exercised imaginatively, and even used as a form of developmental aid.
No matter how much costs are defrayed by the IOC and others, can any one country really bear the burden of hosting an event as massive as the Olympics every four years?
Yes it could.
Greece could ease its debt crisis by selling land, establishing a Summer Olympics city, and year-round convention and training center, on a sparsely inhabited Greek island.
The location, like the Vatican, could be granted neutral status, the Greek government would provide territory and infrastructure, and the IOC and its member states would fund construction by issuing bonds or loans based on future media revenues.
In the long run the financial savings would be massive. Greece would essentially be renting out its Olympics infrastructure.
The games are growing rapidly, with the number of Summer Olympics participants almost doubling and the number of events increasing by a third during the 1960s.
Every Olympics since 1960 has seen major cost overruns.
Since the leaders of Russia and China aren’t accountable to voters, they are free to spend as much as $50 billion on the competition. Meanwhile, in many democracies, support for hosting the Olympics is waning—especially amid concerns about economic stagnation and income inequality.
Costs spiraled to over $45 billion for Beijing’s Summer Games in 2008, over $50 billion for the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, in 2014, and an estimated $20 billion for Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Los Angeles is the only city to turn a profit on hosting the Olympics, finishing with a $215 million operating surplus.in large part because the city was able to almost totally rely on already existing infrastructure.
Despite exceptions such as the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, “in most cases the Olympics are a money-losing proposition for host cities.”
In 1972, Denver became the first and only chosen host city to reject its Olympics after voters passed a referendum refusing additional public spending for the games.
But wouldn’t installing the Olympics in one country tarnish the global nature of the Games?
No it would not.
After all where you win a gold medal is of no consequence it is the passion that counts. The Olympics would still be a celebration of human diversity.
Of course there is the other option.
Take advantage of modern technology to hold a “decentered” Olympic Games where different cities simultaneously host different athletic events.
This option has many drawbacks security wise, cost wise, and with every change of venue, millions of staff-hours of know-how are lost.
“Decentering” the Olympic Games would at once make the competition more global by diversifying host countries and less global by not gathering athletes in one place.
What if the IOC granted long-term hosting rights to one city, which in turn could sell rights to host each Olympic Games to a different country?
So the IOC could offer this exclusive right to a developing country that desperately needs foreign investment.
Is it reasonable to expect a city to serve as the permanent site of the Games, but then relinquish the right to host it and get all the glory?
These alternatives are far from perfect.
Imagine, for instance, Kenya organizing the opening and closing ceremonies in London.
For me there is little point running around the world with a flame that was conceived by Adolf Hitler for the 1936 Berlin Olympics Games.
If sport want to contribute to World Peace it should be detached from Drugs and Politics.
Just think what it should achieve. Not only could it be the saving of the European Union. It could generate thousands of jobs and save a generation of young people from a life on the shelves of despair.
If all the Sport Federations of the World and those who are honored to compete demanded a Permanent Home for the Olympics it would happen.
Yet the status quo may prevail.
Promising proposals like these are unlikely to get serious consideration from the International Olympic Committee, which is reaping rewards from the current arrangement, even if most inhabitants of host cities are not.