The Olympics need several mulligans


Every Monday morning, Section 215’s Akiem Bailum gives an in-depth and unfiltered look at all of the latest sports news in The Monday Morning Realist. You can follow Akiem on Twitter @AkiemBailum.

Feb 7, 2014; Sochi, RUSSIA; One snowflake fails to open while forming the Olympic rings during the opening ceremony for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games at Fisht Olympic Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Oh, the Olympics. Last week had a cavalcade of Olympic-related headlines.

Last week, the International Olympic Committee, based out of Lausanne in Switzerland, played the role of Philadelphia’s very own Meek Mill in his beef with Drake. Last week, the IOC played the role of Bethe Correia who was taken to school at UFC 190 by Ronda Rousey in a mere 34 seconds.

In short, the five-ring circus did not have its tent fully constructed—and it showed.

It began early last week when the first shot at the Olympic movement came via Boston mayor Marty Walsh. He effectively ended Boston’s bid for the 2024 Olympics on the basis of the city refusing to sign a host contract which would have required the city (meaning taxpayers) to cover any and all cost overruns related to the Olympics.

The Olympics, as extravagant and unforgettable an event as it is, can also be pretty dang expensive. Given the amount of new venues that are constructed just for the Olympics and the increasing grandeur of the event, it is only a given the Games will have cost overruns.

This one was on the United States’ Olympic Committee almost as much as it was on the IOC. The USOC had tapped Boston as its candidate for the 2024 Games instead of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. (who were also all bidding and are now being asked to re-bid again after being spurned in favor of the City of Beans).

How Boston was chosen was a mystery in itself given opposition to the Games appeared to be highest in Beantown. LA had Hollywood plus it was a host of two previous Olympics. San Francisco has lusted after the Games so much it appears to be Cardale Jones to the Games’ Ronda Rousey.

And Washington, D.C. has, you know, Congress and the White House! The most powerful people in the world!

Okay, these days, that’s probably a net negative for the nation’s capital, but, Realists, you catch my drift!

Except Boston could not save its bid and make it credible in the eyes of a large number of Bostonians worth those beans symbolizing their city.

Advocacy groups played chess with the Boston 2024 executives and seemingly had the official bid in check at every turn before Marty Walsh and Charlie Baker, both in their first terms as Boston mayor and Massachusetts governor, respectively, put the bid in checkmate and out of its misery.

What was even more perplexing was the fact that Boston probably didn’t have much of a chance anyway against a stacked 2024 field that will include Paris, Rome, Budapest, and even—a possible bid out of Toronto.

Yeah, that Toronto which staged a successful 2015 Pan American Games and is thinking about making things even worse in Colorado Springs to the point where if they win 2024, the U.S. won’t get another Summer Games until at least 2036.

The low Boston support, the demands of the Mayor, and Toronto throwing its maple-leaf shaped hat into the five-rings that make up the circus all woke up the USOC and finally realized Boston is a bid destined for failure. So they have since contacted the other three cities and have tried to gauge their interest once more.

But it is another city that seemingly is spurning the IOC because it feels the cost overruns are not worth the international attention they would get by staging the Games. People have said they love the Olympics but not the costs of the Olympics.

But the Games have to be someplace different every few years, so what does the IOC do? It certainly made them look bad and made them look as if cities haven’t been this spooked out of bidding for the Games since the 70s and 80s before LA 1984.

If the Boston debacle wasn’t bad enough, now there is another debacle taking place in a city that will stage an Olympics next year. That city is, of course, Rio de Janeiro.

An Associated Press investigation found that in addition to all of the other problems Rio’s games are having, that the waters that are supposed to play host to some of Rio’s swimming and sailing events are so polluted it has been compared to raw sewage.

Rio 2016 is saying that the events will not be moved. For now—but they have to.

That city’s preparations for the Olympics have not exactly been on target. People celebrated in Copacabana Beach when they were announced as the 2016 host city. Realists, we have to wonder if they would be celebrating a victory if there was a revote today between Tokyo (the 2020 winner), Madrid, and Chicago.

It is certainly embarrassing for a city that was primarily picked because of its “new frontier” status. Instead of feeling “The Rio Effect,” it instead is being smelled and seen. And it is not pretty.

This past week, the International Olympic Committee also named Beijing as the host of the 2022 Winter Olympics when only two cities (it and Almaty in Kazakhstan) were vying for the chance to be the 2022 host.

Yes, we know Beijing staged probably the greatest Opening Ceremonies in Olympic history (so great some of it was fake). Yes we know Beijing was where Michael Phelps made history by winning eight gold medals.

But, the Winter Olympics are now being put in places where it doesn’t snow that much. Apparently, all you need nowadays are mountains (regardless if it snows in the city) and you are qualified to be a Winter Olympics host.

In those circumstances, Atlanta should go after the Winter Olympics next. It has a city and it’s near mountains.

These days the landscape of a city is playing second fiddle to how much a city will be willing to pay for the Olympics and that is another reason why the Games needs several mulligans. Sochi 2014 spent an exorbitant $51 billion on the Olympics—the most expensive in history for either a Winter of Summer Games.

And one would think the Winter Games would come with LESS of a price tag than the Summer Games, not more.

That is what made a lot of cities that were previously interested in the Winter Games to not bid.

It is safe to say the Olympics are at a crossroads. Cities are now saying no to the idea of hosting the Games instead of yes, cities that win the Games are preparing for them shoddily, and the Winter Games bidding process turned so many cities off it came down to two cities from two countries that do not exactly have rosy human rights records.

The Olympics needs several mulligans because before it looked like it was playing the role of Ronda Rousey. Now, it looks like Bethe Correia.

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