Monday, March 1, 2010

Permanent Home for the Olympics? A Proposal

Charles Banks-Altekruse, a former Olympic rower, has published an op-ed in the New York Times that makes a provocative proposal. Banks-Altekruse argues that the Olympic Games should meet at a permanent location and abandon the rotating structure that has been in place since the advent of the modern Olympics.

Banks-Altekruse argues that the Olympics have been unprofitable in recent years, but he does not do a good job linking the financial performance of the games to the roving structure. Banks-Altekruse also argues that a stationary site would prevent political disruptions that sometimes prevent athletes from competing (e.g., in Moscow and Beijing). Banks-Altekruse was prevented from going to Moscow in 1980 due to the US boycott.

Even at a very young age, I believed that the boycott was absolutely unfair. But this is not a common occurrence, and the solution could also mean that athletes and others should place political demands on their nations -- rather than create a fixed site for the games.

Banks-Altekruse proposes Switzerland as a venue, but I believe that the cultural significance of the rotating structure is too rich to abandon -- especially in the absence of solid evidence that it makes the games unprofitable. What do you think?


Aspasia said...

I personally like the roving nature of the Olympics, even as my social activist friends find fault in every country that hosts the Games. (I say, then should we just abandon the Olympics? Never a definitive answer from the protesters.) As someone who lives in Chicago and was virulently anti-Olympics in Chicago, I can understand the hesitation of some residents in the prospective Host cities not wanting the Games there and while I would hate to restrict Olympic hosting consideration to only the wealthiest cities in the world, I don't like knowing that the people who live in the cities have to deal with deficits long after the Games leave.

I think a compromise can be reached where the Games can continue to rotate with less suffering for all. But if we are restricted to but one country, Switzerland is a great choice, but would that be for the Summer Games as well? How hot does it get there?

I also like the idea of being able to see another country in a positive light, even if only on telly for two weeks. The world comes together during the Games, even if there is a ton of shit-talking, at least it's not shit-talking accompanied by bombs, raids and drones. Game on!

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Aspasia: I agree with you. It is fun seeing other countries, and the Olympics provide that opportunity -- even if from a distance. They are so rich, and the roving aspect is something that definitely enhances the games. They would lose something if they were located at a fixed site.

luizvieiracomex said...

O rodizio é uma oportunidade para paises poderem apresentar- se ao mundo, como o mundial da futebol da Africa do Sul, e o proximo mundial no Brasil, claro que os resultados financeiros negativos ou estruturas muito grandiosas ociosas tudo tem um custo....

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Charles said...

One of the main points is that rotating the games is 1) unnecessary to the actual functions of the games, 2) totally environmentally unsustainable (see Qatar world cup plans), and 3) ethically indefensible given the vulnerability to bribes. Yes, I do believe it would also reduce political interferance (see China).

Charlie Banks-Altekruse

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