By Collin Giuliani
The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro put Brazil at the center of the world for two and a half weeks. According to NBC, over 198 million Americans watched at least a portion of the Olympics, and drew an average of 25.4 million viewers per night. NBC estimates that over 100 million people watched at least a portion of the Olympics online, logging over 3.3 billion combined minutes of streaming. And, the International Olympic Committee estimated that 3.5 billion people watched at least a portion of the Olympics, which is roughly half of the world’s population.
While the Olympics drew eyeballs to Rio de Janeiro for half of August, it came at a cost. An NBC estimate had the cost of these past Olympics at over $20 billion, which is nearly double what the 2012 Olympics in London cost, and a Vice article stated that over 800,000 people in Rio de Janeiro alone are in poverty. According to an Oxford report, the 2016 Olympics had a $1.6 billion cost overrun. Even though the Olympics put a spotlight on Brazil, the moment that spotlight was turned off, life resumed as normal.
The venues used at the 2016 Olympics are, for the most part, abandoned, and sit as white elephants. Hosting the Olympics was always going to be a challenge from a construction standpoint, as of the 32 venues used during the Olympics, 18 were either new or temporary venues. This doesn’t include the Olympic Village which housed all of the athletes, which was the largest Olympic Village ever constructed. The Maracanã Stadium used for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies is now without power, and numerous other venues share the same fate of being left abandoned. While the Olympics brought attention to Brazil, it left behind debt and white elephants, and left behind multimillion-dollar venues that have not been in use since the flame went out.
These stories are all too common with major worldwide sporting events, such as the Olympics and the World Cup. After the miscues of the past leaving countries and cities in inescapable amounts of debt, it feels good that, for at least a little while, the Olympics won’t leave behind a mountain of problems for the host cities.
On September 13, it was officially announced that Paris would be hosting the 2024 Olympics, and Los Angeles would be hosting the 2028 Olympics. For both Paris and Los Angeles, it is the third time that these cities have hosted the Olympics, with Paris having hosted in 1900 and 1924, while Los Angeles hosted in 1932 and 1984. The 2024 Olympics will be the first time that France has hosted the Olympics since 1992, when the Winter Olympics were held in Albertville, while the 2028 Olympics will be the first time that the United States has hosted the Olympics since 2002, when the Winter Olympics were held in Salt Lake City.
And, if only for a few years, the world will not need to worry about projects running over budget. The world will not need to worry about the host city being left behind with more problems after the Olympics than it had before it. The world will not need to worry about the host city having dozens of stadiums that have no use after the Olympics. For once, the IOC made a choice that wouldn’t result in the host city being crippled both before and after the Olympics are held.
While France will need to construct some new venues for the Olympics in seven years, the country has almost everything in place already. Stade de France, where the Opening and Closing Ceremonies will be held, is already built and is in condition to host the Olympics tomorrow if necessary. The stadium has hosted a plethora of big events before, from the Rugby World Cup Final to the Euro 2016 Final to the Champions League Final. The stadium that hosts the Opening and Closing Ceremonies is normally the most expensive stadium to built, due to the capacity and the unique architectural design that the stadium usually possesses (much like the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, with the iconic Bird’s Nest). France already has that taken care of.
Any concerns about the level of security, especially following the attacks on Paris back in November of 2015, seem to be no longer necessary after Euro 2016 went off without a hitch. According to The Guardian, despite 2 million fans from other countries visiting France during Euro 2016 specifically for the tournament, no terroristic acts occurred, due to 90,000 security staff being present. And, the cost of the 2024 Olympics is projected at slightly under $8 billion. While projects can have a tendency to go over-budget, should this cost hold, it would be the least expensive Summer Olympics since the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, which were heralded by then-IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch as the “best Olympic Games ever.”
Four years later, Los Angeles will be in an even better position to host the Olympics, and will do so at a budget of roughly $5.3 billion. Los Angeles plans to use 26 venues for the Olympics. Of these 26 venues, 21 are already completed. Two of the five venues that have not been completed include Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park and Banc of California Stadium. The former is scheduled to be completed by 2020 and was built for the Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League, while the latter is scheduled to be completed by 2018 and was built for Los Angeles FC, a new expansion team in Major League Soccer. This means that only three venues (the BMX cycling course on Long Beach Waterfront, the mountain bike course on Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park, and the beach volleyball court on Santa Monica Beach) will be temporary and still need to be built for the Olympics.
When the bid for Los Angeles stated that it was about “what we have, [and] not what we’re going to build,” they were not kidding.
Additionally, the positive impact that the Olympics brings to Los Angeles will be felt long after the Olympics is over, if history is any indication. In 1984, the last time Los Angeles hosted the Olympics, the Games not only turned a significant profit, but according to NBC, produced an economic impact of $3.3 billion on Southern California. Considering that the 1976 Olympics left Montreal with roughly $1.5 billion in debt, the ability of Los Angeles to turn a profit was impressive. The 1984 Olympics were the first Summer Olympics to turn a profit since 1932, when the Games were held in, you guessed it, Los Angeles.
Paris and Los Angeles will not be in debt by the time the Olympics are done. Paris and Los Angeles will not have stadiums that serve no purpose after the Olympics are done. After the rising costs of recent Olympic Games, leaving fewer and fewer cities to bid for this event (the 2022 Winter Olympics consisted of just two cities bidding), and leaving fewer and fewer governments to invest money into an event that brings a generation of problems for just two weeks of happiness and attention, it looks like the IOC will not face that problem during the two Summer Olympics in the 2020s.
For once, the Olympics will go on without scandal in the selection process. Both Paris and Los Angeles were unanimous choices to host the Olympics, and both cities were the only two candidates left in the race to host the Summer Olympics.
“This is a win-win-win situation for Paris, Los Angeles, and the entire Olympic Movement,” stated Thomas Bach, the president of the IOC. “These are two great cities from two great countries with a great Olympic history. Both cities are very enthusiastic about the Games and are promoting the Olympic spirit in a fantastic way.”
For once, it seems like the IOC got it right.