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Are we losing the Olympic ethos?

October 1st, 2009
06:06 PM ET

On Friday the International Olympic Committee selected its choice to host the 2016 summer Olympic Games.

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/01/rio.art.jpg caption="Rio de Janeiro has never hosted the Olympic Games."]

Three of the final four cities short-listed, Chicago, Madrid, and Tokyo, hail from regions that frequently host the world’s premier sporting extravaganza.

The fourth, the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, represents a continent that has never won the right to host the Games. Indeed South America has not hosted a major sporting event on a global scale since Argentina brought football’s World Cup to the region in 1978.

Spain’s Olympic vice-president Jose Maria Odriozola reportedly labeled the Brazilian city as "the worst of the four candidates,” and raised questions about security. This prompted Rio’s organizing committee to lodge a complaint with the IOC.

Click here to read more about Rio's winning bid

The enormous cost of staging the Games, in terms of improving a city’s sporting and non-sporting infrastructure, puts a lot of pressure on the IOC to select the bid they feel is most capable of delivering success.

Does this mean that richer, industrialized countries in Europe and North America are a safer bet in this respect?

Next year an African nation will host the football World Cup for the first time. The decision to award the tournament to South Africa raised plenty of eyebrows given the country’s significant social and economic problems. However FIFA, the sport’s governing body, clearly took the view that the benefits of bringing football’s showpiece event to Africa far outweighed the potential costs.

How should you decide who hosts the Olympics or a World Cup? Is it about cold, hard pragmatism or the romance of seeing new, untested cities sharing the experience?

Tell us what you think below.


Filed under:  General
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Ray

    Time and again, the story is the same: one city wins the games, spends a huge amount of money building stadiums and other facilities. Then comes a few weeks in the spotlight, and then it's over. The facilities sit largely unused; the host city tries to hold on to the nostalgia, but the reality is that history is history. All eyes are already on the next city that will pour money into a one-shot event.

    It's time for a change. The summer Olympic games should be held every 4 years, but in the same city, and that city should, of course, be Athens, Greece, where the games originated. That way, the facilities could be used repeatedly and no one else has to worry about the steep cost of hosting. And now is a perfect time, since Athens recently created those very facilites for the 2004 event.

    Can one voice start a movement to make a change? Let's do it: Athens, Greece, as the permanent host city of the summer Olympic Games.

    October 1, 2009 at 7:52 pm | Reply
  2. Angelle

    Ray, I completely agree with you. If it was not for Greece there would not be the "Olympics". I recently visited Greece and the facilities that were used for the 2004 Olympic games are still in excellent condition.

    Why poor millions of dollars into new facilities every four years when the majority of the planet is experiencing a recession?

    October 1, 2009 at 9:10 pm | Reply
  3. Angelle

    Ray, I completely agree with you. If it was not for Greece there would not be the “Olympics”. I recently visited Greece and the facilities that were used for the 2004 Olympic games are still in excellent condition.

    Why pour millions of dollars into new facilities every four years when the majority of the planet is experiencing a recession?

    October 1, 2009 at 9:12 pm | Reply
  4. Robert

    Does it means US losing its influence in the world? Or does it means President Obama strategy of Engagement slips US from its powerful leadership position? There are clear signs of changes anyway.

    October 2, 2009 at 10:09 pm | Reply
  5. Lisa Kirker

    Frankly I am glad that Chicago didn't get the Olympics. I am a huge Obama fan, and I enjoy Oprah Winfrey from time to time, however, this "team" can not get what ever they want. A city plans and usually spares no expense in order to bid for the olympic games.
    A message can not be sent to the world that the most popular with the most money gets!
    I must say I think that the President of the United States is stepping outside of his zone. Do you not have enough to do? There is the Health Care Crisis, Iran, Iraq, Afganistan, the military families that are suffering, people losing their homes, high unemployment, just to touch on the tip...Mr. Obama, forget about the olympics. Take care of the issues!!! As I do beleive that you had the city of Chicago's best interest at heart....the olympics is a none issue at this time...I am afraid. Do you really not have enough to deal with?

    October 3, 2009 at 2:27 am | Reply
  6. Sanz

    I completely agree with Ray too. The Brazil has a lot of economic, education, social and health problems for solving. That's really more one a stupid decision of brazilian government.

    October 4, 2009 at 2:41 pm | Reply
  7. domnica cernasov

    If someone has a need to pour money, why not in an African country or in any of the third world undeveloped nations...

    October 4, 2009 at 3:27 pm | Reply
  8. peter

    The ancient spirit of Olympic games was that of bonding and fraternization among all Hellenic city-states. According to legend even cities at war would pause in a truce during the games, enemies competing fairly for Olympic glory.

    I am not sure anymore what modern "reanimated" Olympics stands for, but if the intended spirit is like to the original then the games should strive to fraternize ALL nations. This goal should be number one, above any convenience of the selected place, or if sanitation is adequate by US standards or whatever else. In this view the absence of games in South America and Africa is a failure, unless for those people that would rather have the game as a developed world private party.

    Of course the selected place should have at least minimal conditions to actually run the event, but there is a great difference between "minimal" and "luxurious". That is why the Spaniard's comment about Rio is so deeply offensive.

    October 7, 2009 at 4:35 am | Reply
  9. American in Brazil

    I had been against Rio de Janeiro as the choice to host the 2016 Olympic games because of severe violence and general security problems, ethical/corruption issues and a record of misuse of funds. Largely funded by the government it will cost the Brazilian people a lot of money when they have not even met basic needs on a large scale.

    So now they have the privilege, responsibility and hopefully the pleasure to host the Olympic Games. Given that, Rio is a beautiful setting for such an event and I am hopeful that they will pull it off providing an outstanding Olympic experience and that it will help Rio and Brazil in the way it is hoped, infrastructure, tourism, etc. I also do think it is a "+" that the Olympics games have come to South America. Let's route for the best and always support the outcome of the Olympics in its international spirit.

    October 7, 2009 at 6:03 pm | Reply
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