By NEAL FARMER
I’ll admit it – I sometimes tear up when the United States wins a medal in the Olympics. All right, I almost always tear up.
And there are a lot of people from all over the world who do the same when it is their country. The ideals of the Olympic movement are great – come together and not resort to war to solve differences.
A great story so far this year in that vein is North and South Korea athletes marching together in the opening Olympic parade in South Korea. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the gutsy Simen Krueger of Norway being wiped out in a crash at the beginning of the men’s 30-kilometer skiathlon, replace his broken ski pole, and come back from last place to win the gold medal by eight seconds.
But there are tears from people in the countries where the Olympics are held that are not from national pride. It is because they have lost their livelihoods or the national government has lost their butts when spending on Olympic venues and Olympic surroundings.
There is a story about South Korea spending $13 billion for their Olympic facilities in Pyeongchang, which is about double what they bid in 2011, according to the Associated Press.
And the movement has killed some of the local businesses. One ski resort, Phoenix Park, is where the Olympic skiing will take place. But its slopes were shut down weeks ago to prepare for the Olympics, and the business owners there have no income. Directly across from the main entrance to Phoenix Park they’ve raised large banners reading “2018 Pyeongchang Olympic kill us! keep our right to live!,” according to Yahoosports.com.
Athens spent $11 billion on an Olympic Village in 2004 and used it once, and then abandoned it. Some blame the Olympics on the country’s economic doldrums, although Greece had that problem years before 2004.
Brazil spent billions on structures, and many of their poor people cannot get the food they need because the government overspent.
The Russian government spent $51 billion in Sochi in 2014, we think. We may never know the real cost because, well, it is the Russian government. Some have dubbed it the “Museum of Corruption” since Russia hasn’t recovered the cost of Sochi and doesn’t look like it will, according to an Internet story.
China built the Bird’s Best for indoor games, and the last story I read about it says the venue currently sits empty. It is used so infrequently used that its management team estimates that it would take 30 years to recuperate the $480 million it cost to build it, according to an Associated Press story.
Sarajevo was a successful 1984 Winter Olympics, the first communist country to host a Games. But the venues were torn apart by an ensuing civil war less than 10 years later. They now suffer from neglect.
The United States proved the Olympics can be a money-maker with the 1984 Los Angeles Games. The reason? Previously untapped corporate money. Some curled their lips at taking dirty corporate sponsorships, but it has turned out to be the wave of the future.
The Atlanta Games in 1996 showed a profit and most venues were re-purposed when the crowd left. But the USA has been the exception.
The failed Houston bid in the 2000s was a smart one – they would build dorms at the University of Houston and then give them to UH. The other facilities almost already were in place, as Houston has hosted a U.S. Olympic Festival in 1986 and already had things like a velodrome.
Why do the Olympics – faster, higher, stronger – have to be a force for bad in the host countries? Part of the reason is that the International Olympic Committee (the same committee that previously was busted for taking bribes to put the Games from countries bidding on said Games) are demanding Elon Musk-type spending for new facilities. And it is killing some countries financially.
Who is going to want to host in the future? The United State has pulled out for considerations for the Games in the 2020s.
Could it be that the Olympic Committee and its over-inflated ideas on venues and under-estimated costs of the same will be the death of the Olympics? Why build them only to condemn them to fall into obscurity?
There is an answer. Have the Olympics in the same venue each time. The obvious choice is Athens for the Summer Games, because that is where they started when the Greeks ran roughshod over the world and created the Games in 776 B.C. Those Games lasted for 12 centuries. The modern Olympics were restarted in 1896.
Spend the money to have first-class facilities and then you only have to spend relatively small amounts of money for maintenance.
(Just think, a kid can spend the night in a dorm and see his mom or dad’s initials carved into the wall from a previous Olympic gathering.)
To be fair, that means that the Winter Olympics could not be in Europe. They could be in Africa, Asia or the Americas (as long as the continent begins with an “A.”) I vote for Canada, because they need the help. But the permanent facilities mean that there is less money to squander in the current facility wars.
One word of warning: The Greeks ran in the original Games in the nude. Of course, a positive could be that the nude Olympics could cause an upswing of TV ratings and make money for everyone. And I might tear up watching that.
GOODBYE TO THE RED RAIDER’S HAND SIGN? – A woman recently was stopped at an airport for pointing her finger in the air like it was a gun. The TSA agent took her in and almost arrested her, not knowing she had just seen a fellow Texas Tech Red Raider and was giving the other Techsan a Red Raider “Guns Up” salute. Yes, others have suggested Tech get rid of its hand sign after this incident. Grrrr.
TEXAS IS NO. 3 AND A&M No. 11 – Forbes said that there is serious money to be made on uniform sponsorship for colleges. I thought Nike was the leader, but I was surprised to see how many Under Armor schools there are. Oh, and UCLA is No. 1, followed by Louisville at No. 2. Who knew?
BULLET TRAIN RANT – The high-speed Bullet Train between Houston and Dallas is a good idea. Stopping at the Northwest Mall and not Downtown Houston is a bad idea. The story from Ralph Bivins, a former newspaper co-worker in Lubbock and Houston.
CLASSICAL NOTES – Olympic Fanfare, by John Williams. Yes, the same man who wrote the music to Star Wars, Jaws, E.T., Harry Potter, Schindler’s List, Lincoln, Superman, Jurassic Park and Raiders of the Lost Ark wrote the Olympic Fanfare. It is so iconic that it usually takes me about 14-15 days before I get tired of it. The LA Olympics in 1984 commissioned Williams to write the piece.
QUOTE OF THE DAY – Borrow money from pessimists — they don’t expect it back. – Steven Wright
HOTTIE OF THE DAY
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