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Is hosting the Olympics even worth it? Some countries say no

Is Hosting The Olympics Even Worth It? Some Countries Say No

For more than a century, the modern Olympics have been a symbol of international competition and cooperation - and a chance to give the host city a global stage. But for 2022's Winter Games, a few cities are saying "no thanks." (Via Flickr / J P, ABC)

Two of the most recent Olympics have proven very costly. Vladimir Putin threw a record-breaking $51 billion into 2014's Sochi Winter Games. In 2008, China spent almost $40 billion preparing Beijing for the Olympics. (Via Flickr / World Economic Forum, guccio@文房具社)

It's difficult to track just how much host cities gain between the ticket sales, construction jobs and, of course, tourism. But for many voters deciding whether or not their city will host the Games, it just costs too much.

This week, Krakow, Poland, withdrew its bid with the International Olympic Committee to host 2022's Winter Games. According to The Washington Post, almost 70 percent of voters in the city opposed bringing the Games to Krakow.

Both Stockholm, Sweden, and Munich, Germany, also have withdrawn their bids, citing costs. As Slate puts it, "Publics may finally be getting wise to the fact that the long-term economic benefits of hosting mega-events like the Olympics or the World Cup are usually negligible at best."

Oslo, Norway, could be next, as voters look to be siding against hosting duties with a referendum upcoming. (Via Flickr / Tiberio Frascari)

So, the most likely candidates? Almaty, Kazakhstan, and, oddly enough, Beijing, which would be the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Games. (Via Flickr/ Andrei Shevelev, Bob)

This question over whether hosting the Olympics is really worth it isn't new. But the last few decades have seen climbing costs and some high-profile hosting flops.

CNN reports that Montreal's 1976 Summer Games were meant to bring a huge tourism boom to the city. They actually left Montreal $1.5 billion in debt - a debt the city didn't pay off entirely until 2006.

Still, Los Angeles was the only city to enter a bid for the 1984 games, and it turned a profit by relying largely on already-built stadiums and facilities. (Via Flickr / InSapphoWeTrust)

That's one advantage Beijing could have over Almaty, Kazakhstan. By 2022, China's Summer Games facilities from 2008 will still be of use. The IOC is set to discuss the 2022 games in six weeks.

Join the discussion

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chip19 May 29 2014 at 1:04 AM

Use some of the same cities that already have facilities. What is wrong with that.

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2 replies
cpryplesh chip19 May 29 2014 at 1:56 AM

Agree with You!
...The 'games' are kinda like women & dresses ..... Don't want to wear the same one, for a second time.
It see no reason for the games being held in the same cities, if they wish to host them.

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kenandshannon chip19 May 29 2014 at 3:34 PM

Simply put, the corruption involved in making a new venue is gone for the IOC.

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Dave Heim May 29 2014 at 5:31 AM


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2 replies
jrj915 Dave Heim May 29 2014 at 8:27 AM

You are right….the pride for the athlete and the country , the achievement and all that it means is deep. We need to support it and celebrate it. Not that many people can really do it and be the best at what they do. Life time goals. A lot to be said about that!

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Kent Dave Heim May 29 2014 at 10:43 AM

In theory, that is a great idea. But, Lake Placid is a small town, and I think the closest airport with international service is Montreal. I seem to remember that there were serious issues getting spectators in and out of Lake Placid in 1980.

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tmccull52 May 29 2014 at 11:32 AM

Detroit should host the Olympics. A bevy of new events could be added: The Pump & Shoot, where you see how many gallons of gas that you can pump into your fuel tank before you have to draw a weapon and open fire. Police Evasion Steeple Chase, self-explanatory. The Snort & Snatch, where a competitor snorts some form of opiate or narcotic, and sees how many pizza delivery people that he, or she, can rob before they need their next fix. And let us not forget the Jack and Jump, where a competitor carjacks a vehicle, and then sees how far and how fast that they are able to drive before jumping from the still moving vehicle. Perhaps they can be awarded bonus points if they steer the car into a lightpole or a house while in the act of leaping from the vehicle.

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3 replies
stengernc May 29 2014 at 6:07 AM

Everything is based on greed. Extreme capitalism is as bad as extreme communism.

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1 reply
Vixen stengernc May 29 2014 at 10:14 AM

I don't think this is 'extreme' capitalism... just bad management of venues. I think they should upgrade the best remaining venues and then rotate locations.I never understood the need to move the Olympics and leave brand new buildings unkept. There must be a use for them in between. Let them maybe honor a particular country each time for the Olympics but limit the venues and even have all participating countries contribute something to the preparation of the venue to be used. What do you think of that?

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1 reply
jdsept Vixen May 29 2014 at 3:09 PM

Cities ask to have them. If they are willing to ask and pay, why should they be denied? My idea, why just a city, why not a larger area using a few cities and surrounding facilities. Like CA with SF and LA with numerous sports stadiums in place and numerous colleges with a already existing facilities as to each sport. Texas another place.

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newtimephoto May 29 2014 at 6:33 AM

Frankly, the whole damn Olympics aren't worth it anymore. It's all political. The athletes spend their entire lives and life savings for one or two appearances and are far too intense about the whole thing. And, any event that is not based on measured speed, distance, weight, etc., but on "judges" determining "scores" is a total political charade. End this, or better yet, trim it down enormously to a modest opening, certain sensible events, then go home after a week. Use stadiums that you have, don't build "venues" - not sure when a stadium became a "venue" but that's another thing - and be somewhat modest about it.

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1 reply
jdsept newtimephoto May 29 2014 at 3:16 PM

Some things require stadiums holding many people, the opening and closing of the games. The finals as to soccer also. Increases revenue which is what it is about. The Olympics are no more political than international competition in many sports, ice skating for example or just national events like the US Figure Skating Championships. One has judges for many sports on all levels like the Junior competitions for skating or gymnastics and even on pre-high school levels. Do we end skating and gymnastics competitions which are very popular? Even sports that have actual scoring say basketball have judges where personal judgments come into play by referees who call fouls etc. Baseball? Nothing is modest when big bucks are involved.

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Gunslinger012000 May 29 2014 at 1:12 AM

The Olympics should just be eliminated. With the cost and the lack of interest, whats the point?

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5 replies
Sparky5229 May 29 2014 at 6:50 AM

They don't have a worlds fair any more and no one cares ,so end the Olympics MOST OF THE FACILITIES JUST SIT AND ROT a big waist of money.

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1 reply
Jennifer Sparky5229 May 29 2014 at 12:46 PM

Yes they do have a world's fair. Last one was in Yeosu, South Korea and the next ones are scheduled for Milan, Italy in 2015, Kazakhstan in 2017, and Dubai in 2020 or 2021. Minnesota has put in a bid for 2022 or 2023.

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alanwahlstrom May 29 2014 at 4:06 AM

The lack of fiscal practicality in some of these host countries is much like a clueless housewife with a purse full of credit cards, but not a single clue as to how much her husband actaully brings home. There are many major cities all around the world that already have facilities well capable of handling these events. Los Angeles made a profit in 1984, as did Salt Lake City in 2002.. both of which using pre-existing facilities to a large degree.

This self-serving, overkill mentality is why I no longer donate to large "non-profits". Most of them spend 98% of their intake every year on things that should last 10 years, and then maybe.. maybe.. the remaining 2% goes to the actual cause. And when they expain why, they do it with a smile on their face like we should be amazed and impressed with respect for the authority of their fuzzy math. LIke their line of BS reasoning is a GOOD thing. Typical cons and thugs.

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HEIDE May 29 2014 at 7:34 AM

As the reporter mentioned, it would be smart to use cities who already have venues in place. It might work if several countries would pitch together to host the Olympics at already exisiting venues. I love to watch the Olympics, but the cost to go there is too high and I no longer want to travel so far.

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georgettec28 May 29 2014 at 7:42 AM

ALL sports including the Olympics is a total waste of money. Like sports? Go do it by yourself with or without a few buddies.

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1 reply
jdsept georgettec28 May 29 2014 at 3:31 PM

A waste of money? Not to those who make money off sports or those who work in businesses that live of sports like in TV industry, surrounding eating places and those actually working in the sporting venues. Don't want to spend no money on sports? Don't, your choice. All me to have my 200 channels of cable and switching from baseball, to basketball to hockey and in a few weeks World Cup every night and day. .

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