It used to be that cities around the world practically tripped over themselves for the opportunity to host the Olympic Games. How times have changed. The International Olympic Committee is poised to debate who should host the 2022 Winter Olympics. Problem is, all of the candidates have dropped out except for two: Almaty, Kazakhstan, and Beijing, China.
It’s easy to understand why. The Olympics have become an excuse for massive overspending. Costs for the host can run into the tens of billions of dollars. Costs like that are too high to be offset by any possible benefits, which is why the Olympics is becoming a tougher and tougher sell to taxpayers. Krakow withdrew its bid after a referendum found the people of Poland saw it as an unnecessary burden. And even for a city or country with financial wherewithal, any benefit may be negligible. Or worse. New York City is a case in point. It doesn’t exactly need to raise its profile. Increasing tourism? Please. Officials worry an Olympic bid could distract from economic development based on sound public policy. Perhaps London should have taken note.
The days of over-the-top Olympics appear to be numbered, and that’s a good thing. Given that so many major cities are already endowed with extensive sports facilities, hosting the Games shouldn’t be an umpteen-billion-dollar proposition. Sochi in 2014 and Beijing in 2008 should be the exception – not the model.