Every four years we see two sets of Olympics – winter and summer. Cities vie for the honor of hosting them and then spend huge portions of their nation’s and city’s budgets to build the necessary facilities, many that won’t have any use after the game end – millions of dollars spent on facilities used for only two weeks.
If that were all, it would be bad. But it’s not, to come up with the land and the funds, tens of thousands of people are displaced, left homeless in many cases – usually people that have no fallback options. In Rio, it was 60,000 ousted from their homes so the gleaming new stadiums or housing complexes for the athletes. To build those, city and national funds were raided from vital services such as health care and security. 15 medical facilities were shut down in Rio because of budget issues, and those remaining, unless they were going to be used by the Olympians or visitors, were left with not enough money in their coffers to buy even the most basic of medical supplies like syringes and bandaging materials.
It was the same in Beijing, Greece, and Sochi. But it doesn’t end with the Olympics. World Cup (Soccer) events have been known to do the same thing. In each case, the poorest are hit the hardest, and in that group are large percentages of women and children.
A simple answer would be to stop the constant moving from one city to another. Instead, build a permanent home for the Olympics – one for summer and one for winter. Let the various nations pay portions for the upkeep and keep the costs down once the area is built. They could rent out the facilities for other major sporting events as well. And it may be the right time to do just that.
As is happening now, the bid for the 2024 Olympics finds Boston residents strongly pushing to NOT be part of the bidding process.
The toll on cities, nations, and globally is also felt in health issues. The Rio Olympics went forward even though that area is the epicenter of the Zika outbreak, and Zika is only the latest health scare attached to major sporting competitions. Influenza, measles, Norovirus, and even Ebola have been deep concerns at various International sporting events over the last 20 years. And with the raid on funds, when the games end, countries are left without the ability to help their people cope with any health crisis that could happen for many years.
The national glory that comes with medals and to individual athletes is wonderful, and no one wants to see an end to such events, but the International Olympic Committee (IOC) needs to come up with a different approach. As things stand, they are doing too much damage. On top of that, to make so much of it happen, they’ve taken on so many sponsors that promote less health such as the fast food companies. It’s time to get some class and make a positive impact IOC.
Jay Sekulow is the Chief Counsel for the American Center for Law & Justice.