October 03, 2014

Why no one wants to host the 2022 Olympics: The surest sign that the bid process for hosting the Olympics is broken is actually not the trail of bribe money or crony-rich government contracts at the feet of International Olympic Committee members... The effect is the bidding for the 2022 Winter Games, which is now down to just two cities. The final vote comes next summer. There's Beijing, China, which doesn't actually sit within 120 miles of a usable ski mountain, and there's Almaty, Kazakhstan, which in its bid touted itself as "the world's largest landlocked nation." It's down to these two cities not because the IOC narrowed the field, but because every other city in the entire world said no.

posted by Ufez Jones to olympics at 12:25 AM - 11 comments

deadspin's take has a list of demands the IOC makes. Those alone would make me tell them off. Some part of me still believes we're not far from a time when the IOC and FIFA get torn apart and rebuilt, but then I remember money talks. It's going to require multiple, major Western nations to skip an event or two though and I'm not sure there's enough of a common bond to make it happen for any one country, let alone many.

posted by yerfatma at 08:31 AM on October 03

In other news: Kazakhstan is the world's largest landlocked nation. Huh. I did not know that.

posted by NoMich at 09:22 AM on October 03

Almaty winning it might be the tipping point, since it will go to a city that's not only not all that important, but to a country that isn't, either; at least you could justify many of the recent choices by the latter criterion if not the former.

Edited to add: not to tute my own horn too loudly, but I actually did know somewhere in the depths of my brain that Kazakhstan was the largest land-locked nation.

posted by Bonkers at 10:04 AM on October 03

Forget the IOC, would you really want the Olympics held where you live? I know I don't, when there was a movement to have SF--with the Olympic Village to be built at Moffett Field in Mountain View, a mile from my house--I was one of many who told the organizers what they could do with the bid.

posted by billsaysthis at 10:35 AM on October 03

Toronto lost out on the Olympic bid a couple of times, but they "won" the Pan Am Games for next year. I think those are worse because I had no idea that they were still a thing that happened, so any money wasted on them is definitely not worth it.

I would be fine if Toronto never hosted another major international sporting event (other junior hockey).

posted by grum@work at 12:02 PM on October 03

Some part of me still believes we're not far from a time when the IOC and FIFA get torn apart and rebuilt, but then I remember money talks. It's going to require multiple, major Western nations to skip an event or two though and I'm not sure there's enough of a common bond to make it happen for any one country, let alone many.

I keep thinking these institutions (particularly FIFA) only go away or get reformed if the sponsors start pulling out. Of course, if Nike (or Coke) says "we're out," then I'm sure Adidas (or Pepsi) would simply replace them. But considering the increasing focus on corporate social responsibility, anti-bribery/anti-corruption, etc., seems even if the companies themselves were not motivated to cease doing business with, or push for reform of, FIFA, IOC, etc., then pressure at some point might be brought to bear by their shareholders or regulators.

Here in Chicago, the hometown Olympic bid committee (and autocratic -- surprise! -- Mayor Daley) was bummed to have lost to Rio for the 2016 summer games, but I think folks now realize that the city (which is not in exactly great fiscal shape, in case you didn't know) really dodged a bullet with that one. I'm sure whatever money we could have made renting out our house out for those weeks (we live within walking distance of/easy public transport to a couple of the proposed venues) -- because we surely would have looked to get out of dodge -- would be lost through the increased taxes to pay for the cost of the games.

posted by holden at 12:18 PM on October 03

That was a vicious beatdown of which Upton Sinclair would be proud. "'No evidence uncovered' is on a win streak." in particular is award-worthy.

posted by Etrigan at 12:34 PM on October 03

If Lyle Alzado were alive, he'd tell you that Cossack Stan is a guy who tends bar at a joint near the airport in Cleveland. His English is pretty good. He splits weekends with a guy named Al Kaider.

posted by beaverboard at 01:01 PM on October 03

In the context of LA's bid for an upcoming summer games, I've heard a lot of emphasis on making use of existing facilities. The mayor has been talking about the big investments being in mass transit rather than stadiums. I think it could potentially make a lot of sense for cities in these circumstances where the money can be used for something more than athletic facilities no one wants. Of course, with such a corrupt bidding process, it remains to be seen how that would bear out.

I understand the desire to keep moving these big events around, but building purpose-specific facilities is a waste of money. I think these big games should settle into a pattern of rotating through a set number of cities that are already pretty much ready to host as-is. You can create a new process to allow cities to qualify for the rotation, but the bidding process should be replaced with something that isn't an obvious magnet for corruption and doesn't cause participants to do things like build $>100MM stadiums in remote Amazonian cities which can only be reached by airplane and boat.

posted by feloniousmonk at 02:17 PM on October 03

I admit, I'm kinda looking forward to seeing the Vast Empty Crumbling Arenas of Almaty photo essay in 2024.

posted by Etrigan at 08:22 PM on October 03

I'm not sure the United States will get another Olympics. Any country that gets it likely would be required to chuck up billions of dollars for area and site infrastructures as well as the sites. Not too many American cities have velodromes or tennis centers or Nordic ski locations that are at Olympic standard, and other than the LA Coliseum (which likely would need rehabbing), I don't know of any cities that have an ample-sized stadium with an athletics track. That would be a few hundred million ($1 billion plus?) for a new stadium.

posted by jjzucal at 09:52 PM on October 03

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