Feature

The Olympics should have a real home

Why not build a permanent Olympics venue?

Nate Berg
TheAtlantic.com

Tokyo’s successful bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games will come with more than just international prestige, said Nate Berg. The city will now face the “cost overruns, underused venues, and displaced and disaffected citizens” that afflict all host cities. Montreal spent 30 years paying off the $1.6 billion bill for its 1976 Games, while Rio de Janeiro is currently dislocating 150,000 residents to make way for the 2016 Games. Here’s a better idea: Why not build a permanent Olympics venue? Public policy professor John Rennie Short has proposed designating an “Olympics island,” perhaps in Greece, where the Summer Games would be held every four years. Building one set of athletic venues would be far cheaper, and could provide a stable background against which to measure athletic performance. Cities that covet the Olympics would object, because they think the Games give them an economic boost, but the evidence doesn’t back that up. Only the Los Angeles Games of 1932 and 1984 have turned profits, because they used existing infrastructure and facilities. Having a single location is hardly a new idea: The Olympics were held at Olympia for more than 1,000 years. “Maybe it’s time for another look.”

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