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The Spartan Speaks

The Student News Site of Orono High School

The Spartan Speaks

The Student News Site of Orono High School

The Spartan Speaks

Uncovering the Hidden Cost of the Olympics


The International Olympic Committee (IOC) classifies the Olympics as “the world’s foremost multi-sports event.” The Olympics are one of the most iconic spectacles in our world today. Producing unforgettable moments year after year. Whether that be Usain Bolt’s iconic record breaking sprint in 2008, or Neymar’s phenomenal game winning goal to give Brazil gold in front of a home crowd.

The Olympics induce national pride as well. In Jesse Owens’ 1936 Olympic performance, or in the “Miracle on Ice.” For many it seems like a dream come true to have your own city host the Olympics.

But the Olympics have grown to come paired with a cost. The Olympics have consistently struggled to make a profit, with a 52 year stretch in which no Olympics made a profit. Countries have begun to get creative in order to pay back their debts.

In 2006 the Italian government instituted a national lottery aimed at garnering the funds necessary to pay back the debts. The debts suffered by these countries have taken a long time to pay off. Montreal’s 1976 Olympics took over 30 years to pay off the debts. The losses suffered by the 1998 Nagano Olympics were so bad that the head of the bid ordered all accounting documents to be burnt out of pure embarrassment. Athens’ 2004 Olympics are even credited for jumpstarting a national financial crisis.

Not only do the Olympics cause economic issues, but the stadiums on which countries spend billions rarely seem to have a strong return on investment. Of the 22 stadiums built for the 2004 Athens games, 21 now sit empty. Stadiums which once hosted athletes like Micheal Phelps or Katie Ledecky have been left abandoned in disrepair mere months after the games.

All of these pitfalls have begun to dispel a sense of fear over possible Olympic Bidders. The last three summer olympics awarded had only one bid. Cities are beginning to turn away from the once prized honor of hosting the olympics.

University of Maryland professor John Short recommends a permanent host.

“Instead of investing in billions of dollars for a new city every four years, we could create a permanent Olympics city, with facilities and athlete housing,” Short said.

Whilst the solution seems practical, you lose many benefits from rotating hosts. Despite the shortcomings and disasters from Montreal, or Athens. There are just as many success stories.

Take Barcelona in 1992, they renovated old abandoned factories, built a new port, and improved transportation. The buildings that once were hotels for Olympic athletes became affordable housing units. Some experts credit these Olympics as the event that took Barcelona from a regional city to a global city. 1984 Los Angeles made a profit of over 200 million dollars.

The 2012 Olympics in London took a deteriorating neighborhood in Stratford and turned it into one of the most influential business and tourism districts in all of England. There are plenty of other examples to choose from, whether that be Seoul 1988, Sydney 2000, or many more.

Overall, the Olympics, if done well, can produce benefits felt for decades, through quality planning. Ensuring that infrastructure built for the Olympics stays in use is key. This can be why cities which initially have infrastructure typically have the best results, as they have enough patrons to use these new stadiums. Revitalizing communities around the Olympics, not only makes for an improved Olympic experience, but generates benefits felt long after those mystical two weeks.

However, if these measures are not taken, we can see consequences such as abandoned stadiums, 30 years of repaying debt, and even jumpstarting national economic collapse. But no matter the outcome, the Olympics remain one of the worlds’ finest spectacles.

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About the Contributor
Simon Forbes
Simon Forbes, Staff Writer
Hi all, I'm Simon Forbes. I'm a freshman and this is my first year as a staff member. I enjoy listening to music and being with friends.

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