In 1896 when the Olympic dream was reborn with the Athens Games one could understand the logic. It was almost necessary. The modern world was different then, the Olympics really was a significant event, the only global event that unites the world, stopping by force a debate between countries and a connection between leaders. Popularity rode on the history of ancient Greece but also on a vacuum – FIFA managed to produce its popular World Cup tournament only four decades later.
When you look today at the Tokyo Games that officially open on Friday and the insistence on bringing in 11,500 athletes to play in front of empty stands, some in industries we will only meet again in four years, one wonders if this need still exists at all. And if so, for whom (except for the International Olympic Committee of course).
A ray of light from the land of the rising sun: we need this Olympics opinion
● Lack of buzz and rating data affected advertising prices
The host’s bet
Tokyo won the 2013 Games. The mechanism of choosing the host long before is designed to ensure enough time for the city to prepare, build facilities, upgrade infrastructure, get organized on sponsors, sell tickets, prepare the city for a tourist boom and hope time will find enough sources of income to cover the insane cost. This mechanism is designed to meet the expectations of the Olympic Committee to produce games no less grandiose.
Over the years it has become clear that being prepared too early is not necessarily an advantage. Tokyo is a tidy city with infrastructure, and does not need, for example, the time to get organized that Rio de Janeiro, Athens or Beijing needed. In any case, some host cities smeared the time, the big money involved in building infrastructure found its way into corruption, overriding human rights (mostly of workers) to meet deadlines, and always the costs at the end of the day always turned out to be very far from initial estimates. The bill was of course submitted to the residents – whether they wanted to or not at the Olympics at home.
Even in a place considered as tidy as Tokyo it turned out that there is no connection between 2013 and 2020. When the Japanese capital set out it did so with a declared official budget of $ 7.5 billion that it presented to the Olympic Committee. Today it officially stands at just over $ 15 billion. According to various reports, in the “Los Angeles Times” and the “Financial Times” – the real numbers stand at about $ 26 billion.
A Oxford University study examining the Olympics shows that the gaps between the estimated cost and the actual result are doubled and tripled. Brent Fleviberg, who wrote the study, said in an interview with the Associated Press: “The Olympics offer the greatest risk a city can take. This trend can no longer last. No city will want to take it anymore because it is so expensive, and risky. Herself in a debt she will not be able to meet. “
The study shows that in at least some of the events the deviation was dramatic. For example, at the 1976 Montreal Games, the deviation was 720% when it came to building sports infrastructure (excluding transportation infrastructure, hotels, etc.). In the Rio 2016 Games, the deviation amounted to 352%. The average deviation from the declared budget of summer games since 1976 stands at 213%. Winter games on 142% “only”.
The Olympic Committee itself does not take a significant risk: according to the organization’s financial statements, in the last three Olympic Games – Beijing, London, and Rio – its contribution of money to the host city averaged $ 1.3 billion.
Games in the shadow of the plague
Regardless of costs, the problem of the time component is seen today in Tokyo. Who knew what the world would look like in seven years. The corona virus postponed the Games for a year, and as they approached the new date, July 23, 2021, it became clear that the morbidity situation was even worse. Since a lot of money is at stake, the decision to launch the games is now made against the wishes of the residents, and in stark contrast to all logic – according to a survey conducted in recent days in several countries around the world, only 22% of Japanese people think the games should be held. In the Olympic Committee? There continue to broadcast the same diskette: “The Safest Games Ever”, “Games of Peace”, “Celebration”.
These statements are detached from reality. 87 game.related factors (athletes, coaches, media people, etc.) were infected as of Thursday, two days before the start of the games. Some of the athletes will not be able to compete because they will miss the schedule set for them due to isolations. And the games have not started yet, and some of the participants have not yet landed in the city.
Even someone who has paid big money is willing to make clear what he thinks of the Tokyo celebration. Toyota, one of the 14 super.sponsors of the games, has announced that it will not advertise on television during the games. It was also joined by tire manufacturer Bridgestone.
Peace and brotherhood, and money too
The stated goal of the Games and the Olympic spirit is peace, unity and brotherhood among the peoples. But let’s put things on the table – the goal is to generate money for the Olympic Committee and maintain its power. Over the years, the committee has maintained an almost mythical status among countries. In a sense, he holds more power – he wants to issue a “yellow card”, a kind of threat, to the host city. With his money he promises to create infrastructure for cities and economic shortcuts that can not be reached without the games.
He gained the power mainly thanks to being the one who chooses and gives the “biggest sporting event in the world” to one city every four years. He is a very wealthy body, almost at any given moment with reserves of about $ 1 billion in the account, and with a guaranteed future years ahead – his TV deals with NBC for example, his most significant source of income, are signed by 2032 with a total agreement of $ 7.6 billion. The agreement with Coca.Cola, which was signed for 12 years and will run until 2032, guarantees the Olympic Committee $ 3 billion, and is the longest sponsorship agreement in the history of the sport – starting with the Amsterdam Games in 1928.
But in parallel with the Olympic Committee’s desire to preserve the Games, cities’ interest in hosting the Games diminished. For the past two decades, mayors have been forced to withdraw their candidacy to host after local residents made such an economically significant decision in a “residents’ referendum ”and voted against.
This bizarre democracy that the Olympic Committee encountered on the part of the cities has led the Games to more “comfortable” and less democratic countries.
Is it needed today? Not sure. The world has been global for a long time – athletes meet regularly throughout the year in competitions, world championships, leagues, continental championships, Grand Prix competitions. The meeting of the “whole world” in one place for the purpose of creating peace and brotherhood as in 1896 has no other meaning, apart from the economic need. And this need no longer really exists – cities recognize their responsibility to provide residents with good and advanced infrastructure even without hosting Olympic Games. You don’t need the Olympic Committee to build a city or renovate train stations.
Detached from the young
Tokyo will compete in 33 different sports. Very far from the first Olympic version in the modern era that was launched with competitions in nine disciplines. The Tokyo Games Circle will be joined by wall climbing, surfing, karate and skateboarding. At the Paris 2024 Games he will join the Olympic breakdance program.
At the 1998 Winter Games, the Olympic Committee took the first significant step in that direction when it introduced snowboarding to the Games program, to bring the Games closer to younger audiences. At the 2024 Games, the Olympic Committee is considering incorporating eSports, “gamers”, out of a desire to increase the presence of youth among TV viewers.
These changes are intended to appeal to the younger generation – it is difficult to interest young spectators in athletics or swimming competitions, certainly in industries such as kayaking or rowing. And the disconnection from athletes in the Olympic disciplines for almost four years makes it difficult to identify with the figures and create a new generation of spectators. It does not take too complicated a test to understand the situation of this disconnect, even for anyone who watches the Games, it is enough that you try to name three or four athletes who are to compete in the 100.meter dash final – perhaps the most popular and exciting event in the Games.
Baseball game in Tokyo, empty stadiums / Photo: Associated Press, Jae C. Hong
The data show that the games are “aging”: In the US – the largest and most important market for the Olympic Games following the contract signed with NBC ($ 7.75 billion for 10 years, until 2032) – the median age who watched the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016 was At 52.4 years, according to Ed Age. At the 2000 Sydney Games, the median age of American spectators at the Games was 45.5.
If this trend continues, the Olympics in a little over a decade will be an event mostly intended for people of retirement age.
Brisbane will host in 2032
The certainty surrounding the continued existence of games in the modern era does not exist in terms of the Olympic Committee. The significance of preserving history as far as possible can also be seen from the statement issued this week: We have not yet started the Tokyo Games, but on the eve of the opening of the competitions the Olympic Committee announced the granting of the 2032 Games to Australia, Brisbane. Who knows where the world will be and what will happen in 11 years – but the very granting of hospitality puts into force the contract between the Olympic Committee and the host city. A contract, which as we have now seen in Tokyo, is impossible to get out of.
Under the new method of choosing the host city, Brisbane was the sole candidate for hospitality and was given the right to negotiate with the Olympic Committee for several months to present its plans for hospitality. The cost of the games will be only $ 5 billion and the economic effect for the city and the region will be about $ 17 billion. It is worth remembering this number, and examining it in a decade.