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The Olympic Games: Worth It Or Not?

Since the days of chariot races and naked boxing, the Olympic Games have been a part of world history since those very first games were played in Greece in the 6th century B.C. The games have evolved into the largest international sporting event in the world, representing an opportunity for countries to unify under the power of sport, as well as for hundreds of hopeful athletes from all over the world to proudly represent their respective countries. Despite the fame, glory, patriotism, and unity that the Olympics bring to the international community, there is one question that each country that tries to host the Olympics hasto face when they submit their nomination to the International Olympic Committee: are the Olympics really worth it?

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the grace and beauty of the figure skaters or the high-sky defying tricks snowboarders do, but the Olympics are a burden to the hosting country.

Simply put, the Olympics have simply become too expensive over the years.

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi was infamous for the Russian government having spent a whopping $50 billion to cover the costs. To put the cost of the Olympics in an even broader perspective, the 1976 Winter Olympics, hosted by the Canadian city of Montreal, left the city paying off more than $1.4 billion in debt until just last year.

In fact, the reason why the next two Olympic Games, Tokyo in 2020 and Beijing in 2022, will be hosted in Asia is because most countries couldn’t afford to host them. When the stock market crashed in the Great Recession back in 2008, most Asian countries managed to come out better compared to their European and American counterparts, effectively allowing South Korea, Japan, and China to host the three Olympic Games after the Games in Rio back in 2016. The Olympics are nothing more than a financial burden, leaving behind a trail of financial problems.

Chicago won by losing.

As a finalist to host the 2016 summer games, Chicago and Cook County could have been on the hook for billions of dollars in construction projects that would now be collecting dust or demolished to rubble. What looked like a loss at the time now looks like a blessing.

Then again, there are arguments that the Olympics brings income and prestige to host cities. For example, according to BBC News, the 2012 Olympics brought over $9.9 billion in a boost in trade and investment for the U.K. and the effects are expected to be long-lasting. However, that’s quite the rarity. Most of the time, the Olympics are never financially worth it, for host cities will have to spend billions on infrastructure, security, and etc.  

Unlike Los Angeles in the Summer Olympics of 1984, most host cities have to build new infrastructure for the sporting events and incoming visitors. In the end, most of this infrastructure is abandoned, and every time a host city is selected, the final bill is usually more than the projected cost. This year’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang cost over $13 billion, almost double  the projected $7 billion. This has brought plenty of skepticism and has led to fewer bids to host the Olympics in fear of the massive financial burden that might come along with it.

Imagine your city is hosting the Olympics. Pray tell, where is the money going to come from to pay for it all? You and other taxpayers of course.

But heck, the Olympics also bring other problems as well. Take the 2016 Summer Olympics, hosted in Rio, Brazil. The Games gave the city an excuse to cover up the city’s poor from the public and according to Vox, over 77,000 people were evicted from their homes starting in 2009 in order to prepare for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics . Besides the fact that human and property rights have been violated in several of these Games, the Olympics have been riddled with immense controversy, whether it be corruption or cheating.

You want to know why during this year’s Winter Olympics all athletes from Russia were not under the flag of their country, but under the moniker “Olympics Athletes from Russia ”? That’s because of the massive doping scandal dating back to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and even further, investigations have found over 1,000 Russian athletes in over 30 sports were involved in this scandal for years. And the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi were already a subject of controversy due to Russia’s long history of homophobia, political instability, and environmental and economic issues.

As much as the Olympics can raise the prestige of a city, the exact opposite can also happen. The host city is placed on the world stage, watched and examined by millions of people all over the globe. One bad mishap can ruin a city’s image for years, become an embarrassment that can cause negative long-term effects on the host city and their respective countries.

Is any city really willing to invest and risk so much for the Olympics? I’d doubt it, considering many cities have withdrawn their own bids for the Olympics over the years. The financial burden can more or less ruin a city’s economy and leave behind ghost towns of Olympic infrastructure never to be used again. The risk of embarrassment on the world stage, violation of human rights, and the controversies and scandals that have plagued the history of the Olympics is a clear indicator that the Olympics can bring severe consequences to host cities and their respective countries.

Now, some may actually benefit from the Olympics like London did in 2012, however, hosting the Olympics is like playing with the fires of Hell, as the negative consequences will likely outweigh any positives. The Olympics is like gambling with the devil, meaning most of the time you’re going to be on the losing side of things. In short, whoever hosts the Olympics probably made one of the worst decisions in their history.

JOHNNY NGUYEN

MEET

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