9 billion Euros down the tube
August 4, 2012 7:35 PM   Subscribe

So what has become of the Athens Olympic venue, which cost nearly nine billion Euros? Most of it is abandoned and covered with weeds and graffiti. And the same thing is happening in Beijing.
posted by Chocolate Pickle (67 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
Explain to me why any city government with an ounce of sense would try to host an Olympics?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:36 PM on August 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


Limitless opportunities to divert taxpayer funds to friends and political supporters?
posted by zjacreman at 7:38 PM on August 4, 2012 [84 favorites]


The problematic legacy experiences of past Olympic cities why the London 2012 Olympics masterplan put a big emphasis on temporary structures that will be dismantled soon after the Olympics are after. The idea is that this will create a clean slate on the ground for post-Olympics redevelopment schemes but with the new transport infrastructure built for the Olympics still there. Of course there's no guarantee that this will work amazingly, but they did plan the Olympics with this legacy issue in mind.

Mind you, some Olympic cities do well - Atlanta gained enormously from the international exposure and development schemes, even though Atlanta's 1996 Summer Olympics was plagued with problems (e.g. severe transport delays, major disputes over sponsorship/stunt marketing, and a terrorist attack)
posted by Bwithh at 7:45 PM on August 4, 2012 [17 favorites]


Maybe it's hopelessly naive, but I feel like Anchorage would actually use infrastructure created for a future winter Olympics. I know it's kind of a pipe dream at the moment, but I hope it happens in my lifetime.
posted by charmcityblues at 7:47 PM on August 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


I think this has more to do with the respective governments of those countries than it has to do with any inherent wastefulness of hosting an Olympics. The games have left lots of useful infrastructure in the past.
posted by downing street memo at 7:47 PM on August 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


Again, not saying that hosting an Olympics makes financial sense at all. But there are lots of reasons to think that these two examples might be atypical.
posted by downing street memo at 7:48 PM on August 4, 2012


Limitless opportunities to divert taxpayer funds to friends and political supporters?

Bingo. That's what happened here in Atlanta. All the vending and concession contracts went to buddies of then-Mayor Bill Campbell.

That having been said, the venues from the 96 Games are, with a couple of planned http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omni_Coliseum, mostly intact and still in use.
posted by deadmessenger at 7:48 PM on August 4, 2012


Dangit. My kingdom for that edit window.
posted by deadmessenger at 7:48 PM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]




Wow, just years after. It's sad to see such waste.

Here in Utah I know that the Skating Oval gets regular use, and all of the ski venues are part of Ski Resorts.

Of course, it could just be that the Winter Olympics are far less damaging after the fact.
posted by PipRuss at 8:00 PM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I heard that Athena and Phevos needed to get their feet amputated after they were diagnosed with peripheral arterial disease, and the Fuwa got sold to a Foxconn factory.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:01 PM on August 4, 2012


Matt Yglesias had a good article recently on the economic benefit of hosting the Olympics. Basically, it's a good deal if you're building stuff you would've built already, like a mass transit system, but sports-specific stuff tends to waste money. Unfortunately, that's the bulk of what cities are required to build.
posted by Cash4Lead at 8:08 PM on August 4, 2012


As much as I hate to think about what would've happened had NYC gotten the Olympics, it might've actually prevented the Meadowlands/Xanadu project "ruins" that are a walking distance eyesore from my home. I'll be shocked if it ever actually opens and I'm sure it'll be a mess when/if it does. It still boggles my mind that there's an unused indoor ski area right down the street in the middle of a weed filled, overgrown mess.
posted by blaneyphoto at 8:10 PM on August 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


I've decided I am done with the Olympics.

I don't care who took what drugs or wore whatever power-suit or had whichever limb chopped off to get whatever medal in order to get some stupid fucking endorsement by some yawn of a company that may or may not have actually paid the correct bribes to get a comma. Seriously, when you have lawyers running with the Olympic torch it's a totally new era. It's the era of who fucking cares? as far as I am concerned. The corporate era! It's like the big banks at this point. There's either a scandal at each step of the way or a blatant violation of some law or treaty or the trail is littered with dead babies and mising commas.

If I had been Danny Boyle, and given £27m to design the opening of the Olympics, I would have cashed that check, then spent exactly 3 minutes masturbating in front of an audience of millions. In the end, I would have accomplished the exact same thing, but I would have had a better time, been less of an embarrassment to the Queen, and developed a better understanding of commas!
posted by cjorgensen at 8:22 PM on August 4, 2012 [16 favorites]


Why can't there be one permanent Olympic venue, or even a permanent group of four or five revolving venues? So that rather than rebuilding the whole massive assemblage from scratch every four years --- actually, make that every two years, considering the separate Winter and Summer games --- you could build once, build better, and not waste billion$ doing the same thing over and over and over.....
posted by easily confused at 8:22 PM on August 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why can't there be one permanent Olympic venue, or even a permanent group of four or five revolving venues?

Because, like many pathogens, the Olympics ultimately destroy their hosts and must move on to new ones.
posted by docgonzo at 8:26 PM on August 4, 2012 [27 favorites]


I'm really glad San Francisco lost out on the bid. But then we "won" the America's Cup.
posted by rtha at 8:28 PM on August 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Shouldn't part of the Olympic proposal include plans for reuse of permanent facilities?
posted by incandissonance at 8:31 PM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Imagine if a little data were fed into the criteria of which cities were allowed to bid?

I would think smaller cities that orbit large metropolitan areas could be served by this in a major way by hosting an Olympic games, or smaller cities that serve as regional hubs for the larger national/multinational hubs nearby.

Tacoma, Fort Worth, San Jose, Kansas City, Memphis, etc.

This is very US-centric, I know. So going a little farther out into my geographical knowledge...getting into Mexico, I could see Monterrey or Querétaro being interesting places to host the games as well.

Then I start thinking about places in India.

The idea I'm thinking here is that the infrastructure build-out would really help smaller cities and if the tax revenues were fed into a local fund that could be used as collateral for bonds, that money could potentially pave the way for infrastructure upgrades for a generation.
posted by roboton666 at 8:32 PM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


The pity of it all is how when look at my own city, Boston, I can easily see us hosting the Olympics without putting a single brick on top of another.

Olympic Village: the Boston University Campus. The students get kicked out at summer time often enough anyway. Or, we can whisper sweet nothings at the Harvard admins and persuade them to shut down for one summer.

Hotel space: we always have enough once Harvard et al are done graduating their students.

Main stadium: take your pick. We have several. None will have enough seating space to satisfy the IOC, but the oversubscription won't be that bad. And there's another way to sweeten that pill: instead of doing online first-come-first-served ticketing, we do an online auction, with the funds generated by the process sent to appropriate organizations.

Transportation: simply shut down the needed thoroughfares and make them bus-only.

The Marathon: we have one. We could use the same route for part of it.

It could work....
posted by ocschwar at 8:45 PM on August 4, 2012


I'm really glad San Francisco lost out on the bid. But then we "won" the America's Cup.

Yeah, but people can keep using the ocean you build to host the America's Cup.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:52 PM on August 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


Those Beijing Olympics “Ruin Porn” Photos Are Faking It

Glad someone already posted that one.
posted by J.W. at 8:57 PM on August 4, 2012


The idea I'm thinking here is that the infrastructure build-out...

..never happens. The "infrastructure" that gets built is sports stadiums.

Everyone told me that if Chicago won the 2016 summer games, we'd get all these great improvements in transport. No, we wouldn't. We'd get a temporary stadium in Jackson Park, and we subsidize a bunch of condos to be the Olympic Village.

Whoop. De. Doo. The last thing Chicago needs are more condos on the market. The second to last thing we need is another sports stadium -- in the city proper, we have two ballparks, a hockey/basketball stadium, and a toilet bowl that landed on our football stadium. New L lines? Dream on. We'd just do what London did -- block off highway and major street lanes for Olympic special people.

And, of course, there's the accounting. The reason that Athens lost so much money wasn't because they spent so much money on hosting -- every single city that hosts does that. They lost money because they didn't make a sacrificial corporation that gets laden with all the debts and then is bailed out by the government.

LOCOG will show a nice profit -- a couple of billion pounds, easy. What you will need to find is the "caretaker" corporation that follows LOCOG. They will lose 6-10 billion pounds.

Note -- if you build a "temporary" stadium and then do not pay to take it down, you've just foisted that cost onto the public, when that stadium finally needs to be taken down.

The right answer, when your local politico start taking Olympics, is to do everything you can to embarrass your city to make sure it won't happen. For the last ten years, the US was immune to this disease, thanks to a huge fight between the USCO and IOC about who get the most blood out of the host city, but it appears that they've resolved that, which now makes US cities eligible for the games again.

Dammit.
posted by eriko at 9:04 PM on August 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


easily confused writes "Why can't there be one permanent Olympic venue, or even a permanent group of four or five revolving venues? So that rather than rebuilding the whole massive assemblage from scratch every four years "

Because if countries are going to keep score with total medals (which of course they are) having the permanent facility in your own country would be a huge advantage to the host countries. Both in the short term as current athletes would be able to train in their home countries on their home track and in the long term as the sport infrastructure generated would encourage locals to participate in Olympic sports. Non permanent facility IOC countries would never go for it. And that is non considering the tax revenue generated by the facilities and spinoff economic activity.
posted by Mitheral at 9:08 PM on August 4, 2012


I was hoping for algae and tadpoles in the natatorium. These aren't terribly scandalous.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:09 PM on August 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why not build a huge ship to serve as the stadium; certainly the technology exists to build ships large enough to serve that purpose (see the supercarriers such as the USS George H. W. Bush [deck area 333m x 78m = ~26,000 m2 compared to the Australian olympic stadium's field at 170m x 128m = ~22,000 m2]). Then any port city could host the olympic games so long as the UNS Olympus Mons (this is obviously what it would be named) can get to it. There could be a whole fleet of smaller support ships for other events, and the whole fleet would just travel from city to city every four years. Given that a Nimitz class supercarrier 'only' costs about $4.5, you could even afford a spare.
posted by Pyry at 9:11 PM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Montreal, and its Olympic Stadium, are the worst example imaginable of a city that benefited from hosting the Olympics.
posted by ylee at 9:14 PM on August 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why not build a huge ship to serve as the stadium...

Kind of difficult to build a ship big enough for the Marathon, though.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:18 PM on August 4, 2012


the Athens Olympic venue, which cost nearly nine billion Euros

So, just so we're clear, a two week sporting event cost more than the Large Hadron Collider?

OK then.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 9:20 PM on August 4, 2012 [18 favorites]


The marathon would be run on a series of robotic barges that keep 100 meters of track available to run on at all times as the front end decouples and links up with the back.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:20 PM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Kind of difficult to build a ship big enough for the Marathon, though.

Bah, just have them run through the many miles of corridors.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:21 PM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


That should be $4.5 billion of course. Aircraft carriers do not yet cost less than many drinks from Starbucks.

Some events, like the marathon, would still happen onshore at the host city.
posted by Pyry at 9:22 PM on August 4, 2012


Pyry writes "Australian olympic stadium's field at 170m x 128m = ~22,000 m2])."

That's the field area which doesn't include seating or all the support structure a stadium needs.

Chocolate Pickle writes "Kind of difficult to build a ship big enough for the Marathon, though."

It would be, uh, unconventional but there isn't anything saying a marathon course couldn't be however many laps of the facility would be required to make the distance.
posted by Mitheral at 9:23 PM on August 4, 2012


Make that 1000 meters.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:32 PM on August 4, 2012


If I had been Danny Boyle, and given £27m to design the opening of the Olympics, I would have cashed that check, then spent exactly 3 minutes masturbating in front of an audience of millions.

Or you could have got the PM to have sex with a pig live on TV.

Which would the better metaphor be?
posted by Mezentian at 9:51 PM on August 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


So, just hypothetically, could a suitably large city pull of a budget olympics if they were willing to forgo the prestige of splurging? I'm thinking most serious cities must have at least one track, and one olympic swimming pool. That certainly doesn't cover everything, but again with a big-ass city there's got to be pre-exiting structures that can facilitate most everything, and for the outliers they already end up holding the events somewhere out of town anyway.

Is the drive to build all new Olympic-grade stuff just a matter of current facilities not having enough seating? I get that upgrades to transport infrastructure may be needed to support all the visitors, but beyond that, are shiny new facilities for all sports a matter of necessity?
posted by passerby at 10:10 PM on August 4, 2012


are shiny new facilities for all sports a matter of necessity?

I gather they are considered during the "bidding" process, so I would say they're not necessary per se, but basically required.

As I understand it you need stadiums this have so many seats for each stage of the competition, so many overflow venues... I imagine most cities (or regions) don't have the capacity built in from the get-go.

Greater London has how many soccer and rugby facilities? How many "Olympic-sized swimming pools"?
I mean if London couldn't, who could? I'd be guessing very few places.

I suspect the Olympic demands swamp what needs to be built for the Commonwealth Games.
posted by Mezentian at 10:17 PM on August 4, 2012


In Calgary, Canada Olympic park (the hill with the skip jumps) is still in use, the Olympic Oval at the University of Calgary is still in use, Nakiska is still there in Kananaskis (but not the greatest ski hill), the Flames still play at the Saddledome, and Olympic Plaza is still there downtown and is a valued public space.

Of course, it was a winter olympics. so the facilities are more applicable to winter recreation. It was also 1988, and those games look quaint compared to today. There wasn't as much pressure to hold some kind of overblown world-changing spectacle.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 10:32 PM on August 4, 2012


So, just hypothetically, could a suitably large city pull of a budget olympics if they were willing to forgo the prestige of splurging?

the Budget Olympics was Los Angeles, 1984.
posted by Xere at 10:41 PM on August 4, 2012


robotron666, San Jose is larger in both population and area than San Francisco. FWIW.
posted by mollymayhem at 10:44 PM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I got an idea: How about every four years we give €9 Billion to some random shmuck on the globe? The sole requirement being that he must use all of it up within one year, does not keep anything he buys, and loses everything remaining at the end of the period. The assets remaining is passed on to the next lottery winner and used to finance the search for the next random lucky winner.

Hey you, farmer in rural Mongolia, it is your chance to do whatever the fuck. You think everyone should have a free bowl of rice? Ok, whatever! But you'll still have a €8,750,000,000 left! Out of ideas? Golden statue of yourself in all the villages in your area? You got it! You still have €8,300,000,000 left! Giant yacht party on a custom yacht? Everyone you know invited? Ok! €8,000,000,000 remaining! Free wifi throughout your country, the remaining money left as a principal? Now your talking, that's how you do it!
posted by TwelveTwo at 10:47 PM on August 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


Er, skip jumps should be ski jumps, and one of those . should be a ,.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 10:48 PM on August 4, 2012


I not sure what LA built for '84 (I was only 4 years old at the time) but I believe most of it was already there. We did have the benefit of re-using our Coliseum from the '36 Olympics. That area also had LA Memorial Sports Arena (boxing and whatnot) right next to it and the dorms from a major university (USC) next door to serve as the Olympic Village. The stadiums for pro and college sports teams (Rose Bowl, Dodger Stadium, The Forum, Pauley Pavilion, etc.) are all relatively close by.

So, I'm not sure if anything was purpose built, and if it was it's probably still there.
posted by sideshow at 11:16 PM on August 4, 2012


Actually, LA had it in 32, not 36. 1936 was held in Berlin.
posted by sideshow at 11:18 PM on August 4, 2012


Why not build a huge ship to serve as the stadium

Because it would have to be 3x the size a Bush class aircraft carrier to fit a 60,000 seat stadium on it. That would make it way too wide to go through any major canal and probably too high to fit under most bridges.

And it'd only last 30 years before you'd have to sink it, and given the scale of this monstrosity, where would you park it in the 3 years there are no Olympics? Don't say "tours" -- it's going to be so huge cities will probably have to build special docks for them.

So, just hypothetically, could a suitably large city pull of a budget olympics if they were willing to forgo the prestige of splurging?

It's difficult just because of the sheer scale of the venues. There are 40-some cities in the US with football stadia that seat at least 50K, but how many have room for a track? Most took theirs out to add seats, even the LA Coliseum. Plus you'll need an arena for gymnastics, another couple to handle basketball and volleyball, a natatorium, a rowing ditch of some sort, a velodrome, various other rooms and spaces for the smaller sports, a kayak river, a BMX track, some picturesque spot to pitch the beach volleyball....

Take Seattle. For the most part it's in good shape -- two football stadia, a covered baseball stadium (that could be pressed into service for some small events that don't tear up the turf), five arenas (counting the T-Dome), the old aquatics center in Federal Way, the velodrome out in Redmond, and the Seattle Center with its old World's Fair buildings. So, just throw some sand in front of the Space Needle and put the soccer in Portland and Seattle has a nice, frugal games.

Except... there's no infrastructure to move 200K+ people to Everett and Federal Way and Tacoma every day when the roads are already clogged and the light rail is generations from completion. Husky and C-Link have no track. And most of these places need improvement. Memorial Stadium could be a great field hockey venue, but it's crumbling.

And that's Seattle, which has most of the key venues. Dallas doesn't. Detroit doesn't. Even if you told cities not to do the big, aspirational things they love to do, they're still facing billions for new facilities and transport.

Hosting the Olympics is a fool's game.

I got an idea: How about every four years we give €9 Billion to some random shmuck on the globe?

That's been done already.
posted by dw at 11:20 PM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


We've been to sports events and concerts at Sydney Olympic venues quite a few times since 2000. I'm happy to be corrected by a local, but as far as I know most venues are still in use, and the purpose-built accommodation was converted into apartments and sold after the Games (although with a stunningly-silly suburb name).

And in Canberra, where preliminary football matches were held, nothing new was built. The existing stadium was used, and an existing motel was the accommodation for athletes, staff and the base for the volunteers. I assume the other far-flung cities used in 2000 for preliminary football matches were the same.

How on deity-of-choice's green earth could a city invest so much cash and then just... let it fall into rack and ruin? What mental giant cheerfully agrees to build these multi-million dollar venues with no plan for use after the Games?
posted by malibustacey9999 at 11:53 PM on August 4, 2012


Because it would have to be 3x the size a Bush class aircraft carrier to fit a 60,000 seat stadium on it. That would make it way too wide to go through any major canal and probably too high to fit under most bridges.

And it'd only last 30 years before you'd have to sink it, and given the scale of this monstrosity, where would you park it in the 3 years there are no Olympics? Don't say "tours" -- it's going to be so huge cities will probably have to build special docks for them.


3 x 4.5 billion / 30 years = 450 million / year for the UNS Mons Olympus, vs. 9 billion / 4 years = 2.25 billion / year for the Olympics as normal, so it would cost less than a fourth of what Greece paid. They could have superbowls and conventions and stuff on it in in-between years, or just move it into arctic or antarctic waters for the winter olympics. You could use it as temporary shelter for disaster relief and things as well.

Canals and bridges are things you need to go through / under when you're in a hurry; there are four years between Olympics, it can take the long way around.

Obviously it would almost never actually dock; people would be ferried to and from it while it sits out in the ocean.
posted by Pyry at 12:04 AM on August 5, 2012


Explain to me why any city government with an ounce of sense would try to host an Olympics?

Sydney was a very - very poor cousin to Melbourne until it held the Olympics. Now it's just a very poor cousin to Melbourne.
posted by mattoxic at 12:05 AM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


The London games are probably going to cost about 15-20 billion pounds and the orgy of corruption and privellege which is currently oozing around the city is abhorrent.

Totally worth it
posted by fullerine at 2:20 AM on August 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


That was not the Cube I hoped it would be.
posted by Mezentian at 2:28 AM on August 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Those Beijing Olympics “Ruin Porn” Photos Are Faking It

Actually it looks like a similar thing is going on with the Athens photos. The main stadium is still used and in decent shape, and the minor venues are decaying.
posted by gubo at 4:30 AM on August 5, 2012


Ah, Olympic infrastructure: corruption that keeps on giving. Eighty years on, the Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles is a cesspit of graft, porn, and death.
posted by Scram at 4:32 AM on August 5, 2012


60 Years on, Helsinki's Olympic Legacy Endures

"We can still see the 1952 Games as we walk in the city," said history professor Juhana Aunesluoma of Helsinki University. "We still have almost all of the monuments that were built for the 1952 Games. The venues, they are still part of the city structure."


Be that as it may, the far more enduring legacy has been that of the Lonkero, invented specifically for the Olympics and a firmly established summer favourite (original, please, with ice), said Mefite infini. There's nothing like sitting outside on a summer terrace watching poodles and cyclists and perambulators go by while the ice cold droplets condensing keep the temperatures down.
posted by infini at 6:11 AM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


If I had been Danny Boyle, and given £27m to design the opening of the Olympics, I would have cashed that check, then spent exactly 3 minutes masturbating in front of an audience of millions.

Mmm. Personally I had my heart set on a live-action retelling of Zardoz, but whatevs.
posted by Ritchie at 6:45 AM on August 5, 2012


metafilter: tadpoles in the natatorium.

I know I'm late, but I love that phrase. Tadpoles in the natatorium.
posted by moonmilk at 6:59 AM on August 5, 2012


dw: "So, just hypothetically, could a suitably large city pull of a budget olympics if they were willing to forgo the prestige of splurging?

[snip -fireoyster]

Take Seattle. For the most part it's in good shape -- two football stadia, a covered baseball stadium (that could be pressed into service for some small events that don't tear up the turf), five arenas (counting the T-Dome), the old aquatics center in Federal Way, the velodrome out in Redmond, and the Seattle Center with its old World's Fair buildings. So, just throw some sand in front of the Space Needle and put the soccer in Portland and Seattle has a nice, frugal games.

Except... there's no infrastructure to move 200K+ people to Everett and Federal Way and Tacoma every day when the roads are already clogged and the light rail is generations from completion. Husky and C-Link have no track. And most of these places need improvement. Memorial Stadium could be a great field hockey venue, but it's crumbling.

And that's Seattle, which has most of the key venues. Dallas doesn't. Detroit doesn't. Even if you told cities not to do the big, aspirational things they love to do, they're still facing billions for new facilities and transport.
"

Solving the Seattle transit part is easy, WSDOT is already putting in HOT lanes as far as the eye can see. Just give everybody involved with the Olympics a prepaid GoodToGo pass and call it a day. We could make surviving the Sound Transit 577 from Federal Way into a demonstration event. Gold, silver, and bronze ORCA cards.

As for Dallas, if you want to include the metro area--which most Olympics do--they could handle it just fine: JerryWorld (I mean, Cowboys Stadium) already hosts major football (soccer) events. Rangers Ballpark can do the same thing for outdoor events though the Rangers would probably balk at giving up their field during prime ticket season. There's a velodrome in Frisco that could be spruced up for the occasion. At least three different universities in the D/FW area boast Olympic-standards swimming pools. American Airlines Center in downtown Dallas can be used for Olympic basketball. Fort Worth's side of the Trinity River is pretty clean, though Dallas' is larger and could potentially be spiffed up for rowing. Close down any one or two of the Corps of Engineers lakes for sailing, or maybe use White Rock Lake (owned by Dallas and much nicer looking) if it's large enough. Track and field is easy enough to construct; the whole Metroplex is one big flat piece of land.

Plus, TXDOT is doing the same thing as WSDOT and tolling everything in sight and Dallas has a bazillion percent more miles of light rail, so we're good to go for transit!

(That last bit's sarcasm.)
posted by fireoyster at 7:03 AM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know, there's a ton of cynicism about the Olympics these days (not just here). And the stories of the crackdowns in London, the cronyism, and stuff like this does worry me.

But watching the gold medal winners cross the line, or touch the end of the pool, or stick the landing, and seeing the joy on their face makes me tear up. Almost every time. That's what the Olympics are about.
posted by benbenson at 8:21 AM on August 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


The spectacle!
posted by TwelveTwo at 8:37 AM on August 5, 2012


Mo Farah beats The Cube
posted by Bwithh at 8:43 AM on August 5, 2012


Looking back, the main benefit of the games was providing a push so that certain pieces of infrastructure, like the underground, were built. On the other hand, haste made significant waste, and plans for the post-Olympics use of the venues were drawn long after the games. No one would start playing softball in any case, but it's a shame that the water-sports venue wasn't financially viable and lies abandoned despite having athletes that could use it.

Sport is good, but shooting for medals at any cost is toxic.
posted by ersatz at 9:54 AM on August 5, 2012


benbenson writes "But watching the gold medal winners cross the line, or touch the end of the pool, or stick the landing, and seeing the joy on their face makes me tear up. Almost every time. That's what the Olympics are about."

And interestingly you don't need 100,000 spectators on hand for that essence. Most the problems with the Olympics is in accommodating the spectacle so if we pushed the spectacle to TV a lot of the problems go away.
posted by Mitheral at 10:07 AM on August 5, 2012


Looking back, the main benefit of the games was providing a push so that certain pieces of infrastructure, like the underground, were built.

Yes, the 2012 Olympics probably won't do much for London or the UK as a whole in the long-term, but will likely have a substantial impact on the impoverished areas of East London that have had trouble attracting development funds since they were bombed out in WW2.
posted by Bwithh at 10:18 AM on August 5, 2012


Atlanta's Olympic Legacy, Creative Loafing, July 19, 2012
As the London Olympics kick off and Atlanta looks back at the legacy established 16 years ago, it remains difficult to objectively assess the true impact of the international, two-week athletic competition. Perhaps Richard Diggelmann summarizes it best: "I suppose the games maybe did a little more for Atlanta than Atlanta did for the games," he says. "When you go into the history books, the Olympics will hold a very important part in Atlanta history. I'm not sure it's the other way around."
posted by ob1quixote at 10:50 AM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ozymandias, my friends, it's all Ozymandias...
posted by Renoroc at 3:12 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why can't there be one permanent Olympic venue, or even a permanent group of four or five revolving venues?

Because, like many pathogens, the Olympics ultimately destroy their hosts and must move on to new ones.


The hosts aren't truly dead, but they are limping along. After all, a true parasite never kills its host, as it may want to go back for seconds later on.
posted by stannate at 11:42 AM on August 6, 2012


At least London can use their stadium to host Eurovision when they win. Oh, wait...
posted by LSK at 2:26 PM on August 6, 2012




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