Column: Let only cities that can afford to host, bid for Olympics

The Olympic rings are set up on Trocadero plaza that overlooks the Eiffel Tower, a day after the official announcement that the 2024 Summer Olympic Games will be in the French capital, in Paris, France, Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017. Paris will host the 2024 Summer Olympics and Los Angeles will stage the 2028 Games. (Francois Mori/AP)

This week, Paris and Los Angeles were named the hosts of the 2024 and 2028 Summer Games, respectively.  It will be Paris’s third time hosting an Olympics and the sixth time the games have been in France. For Los Angeles, it will be a record third time that the city will host the Summer Games and the ninth time the games have been hosted by the United States.

While Games like Sydney in 2000 and London 2012 are often considered success stories, there is a list of failures. Photos of former host cities post-Olympics are often shocking and quite frankly sad. Looking back at the facilities from Athens 2004, the arenas are in ruins. In addition to the wasted facilities, cities are also left in massive debt. In 2017, it was reported by USA Today that the Rio Olympic organizers were in $35-40 million in debt.

The solution to this is not solely to give the games to first world countries, as these nations have also suffered financial burden. Vancouver dealt with massive financial losses totaling $630 million in debt after the 2010 Games, according to Fortune. Although unlike Rio and Athens, in Vancouver local authorities funded a $110 million trust to assure that the facilities would remain in use, according to CBS.

While planning the games, organizers have grandiose plans for the infrastructure after the games have passed. However, they often do not pan out.

On the surface, one would think hosting a game would be very beneficial to a local economy as people around the world would flock in, but this has proven not to always be the case. According to Times, just two cities in the past half-century have made back what they spent.

Some of the criteria that go into picking the host include the size of the city, ability to cover expenses and media exposure, among many other things.

I am not going to act as though the selection of a host city is that simple, but it is not acceptable for a country to be left in financial disarray after hosting.

One suggested solution is to have a permanent host fixture. This would eliminate the threat of facilities and areas being wasted. It would also only require infrastructure to be put in place initially, thus not requiring drastic changes every cycle. Los Angeles could be one of the cities able to host.

I understand the desire to spread the games around to different places, but at what cost? I also, do not expect the host to make money, but it cannot break a city like it has Rio.

That is why I believe only places that can financially afford the Olympics should host them.

Cities are beginning to realize that hosting the games is a luxury they cannot afford, as the number of cities that bid has declined recently and the time may come when places do not even bid. In 2004, 12 cities bid for the games, but just five bid for the 2020 games.


Antonio Salazar is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at antonio.salazar@uconn.edu.