By Timothy Guerrero, Opinion Writer
It’s the pinnacle of global sports. Those five iconic rings, overlapping to symbolize the crescendo of competition, as the world’s elite gather to a chosen city and represent their country to utmost potential. This Friday, February 9th marks off the beginning of the Pyeonchang Winter Olympic Games, held in South Korea. But has anyone noticed that, to be blunt, no one really cares? Unfortunately, for sports-enthusiasts like myself and the numerous others both on campus and worldwide, this is a reality we might have to come to accept sooner rather than why. The Winter Olympic Games, matter fact, the Olympics in general aren’t what they once were, which makes us wonder for the future of the sporting pinnacle.
Surely there are certain ramifications as to why these Games lack the normal excitement surrounding a normal one, including the lack of NHL players in the prominent Ice Hockey tournament, as well as time discrepancies and the global hostility plaguing the Korean Peninsula, but this isn’t my point. The issues surrounding the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and how it sells the Games to cities has surmounted, resulting in less and less cities showing interest in being a host location. To better understand this, we first must understand what the IOC is really trying to sell.
The mystique and excitement that the Olympic Games supposedly brings to a city and nation are all but debunked, as recent games have exploited how flawed the system truly is, and how messy of a situation arises. Basically, the IOC receives bids from cities interested in hosting, requiring enormous funds as they require an Olympic Village, apartments, personnel, and state of the art facilities to be built (usually with help from public funding), and in return the IOC suggests that the city will boom economically with overall revenue generation from the Games. However, taken into consideration the massive funds the IOC preserves for internal measures, as well as the demands on the cities to comply, estimated budgets for recent Games have all but eradicated, as spending reached upwards of 90% over budget. And to make matters worse, these facilities which require massive funding are all but useless and damage property value to further burden the economy.
We can look at the massive overspending and political mayhem in Rio, Brazil. These games caught international attention for the massive corruption and lack of care given to the impoverished residents that once called the grounds of what is now an Olympic stadium, home. Tokyo scrapped plans to build a state of the art facility when the country shared the exuberant cost of such a structure. With every country trying to use the latest and greatest technology, costs keep rising and public pays the price.
So, to answer my question, are the Olympic Games slowly dying? If cities aren’t interested, and the demand for hosting privileges dwindles, are we seeing the end of the games as we know it? This is where things get tricky. It was estimated that 3.2 billion people across the globe at least watched some of the 2016 Rio Games, but rating numbers on NBC Universal here in the United States slumped, falling as low as a 28% decline of the 2012 London Games viewership. However, streaming the games on mobile devices skyrocketed. So no, we’re probably not witnessing the ending of a global phenomenon. However, it will be up to the IOC to preserve the future stability of the Games.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, February 13th print edition.
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