The Olympics Is A Ripoff

The Olympics Is A RipoffI can’t for the life of me figure out why any country would want to host the Olympic Games. Whether Summer or Winter, the Olympics is a ripoff for the host nation, and it has always been this way. On top of that, half the time, these games seem to go to noteworthy but economically depressed regions that have to raise and spend upwards of $10 billion or more just to construct the venues and assemble the security and hospitality workings for the various games. And, since most of the venues are single-use or specialty-use facilities, these places never (never!) recoup their losses. It’s just not worth it.

With news that the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics is projected to cost South Korea over $13 billion to put on (originally projected at $7 billion, because government), it’s now trickling out that other countries are getting cold feet and backing away from their previous interests in hosting the Winter Games going forward. For 2022, the damage was already done, as six of the eight finalists all pulled out of contention, leaving just Almaty, Kazakhstan, and Beijing, China, as hosting candidates. China won, which is probably a windfall for Kazakhstan in retrospect. For the 2026 Games, only four countries have shown any interest at all in playing host (two of which have already done it in the past and so have the requisite facilities mostly on hand): Stockholm, Sweden; Calgary, Canada; Sion, Switzerland; and Sapporo, Japan.

At the end of the day, the Olympics are a black hole financially. In the case of South Korea, when all is said and done, the country will have very little to show for its efforts. It’ll have a decimated section of the Sacred Forest forever relegated to cash-bleeding resortery (which the country denies, claiming it will replant the trees, which will probably cost even more and never happen anyway), and there will be Olympic-level slide courses that nobody can safely use once the top-level athletes are gone. And these won’t be the only so-called “White Elephants” to litter the PyeongChang landscape when all the medals are handed out and all the cameras are somewhere else.

Director of financial firm Frost & Sullivan, Abhineet Kaul, explains the obvious (because it happens every single time): “Most of the host cities have taken on unaffordable debt to fund the infrastructure development, and the financial returns have not justified the investment. This has led to cities cutting public spending to service their debt or the vicious cycle to borrow more to retire old debt.”

Perhaps there should be a single Olympics venue somewhere in the world, with profit sharing to all member nations. Build everything once, everyone pitch in, and forget about the visitors and tourists. Looking in the stands during this PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics, thinks it’s clear that they won’t mind being left out in the cold.