Thursday, February 18, 2010

Chaos and 'success' at the Olympics

From the Guardian:
It is hard to believe anything will surpass the organisational chaos and naked commercial greed of the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta or the financial ­disaster of the 1976 Games, which ­bankrupted Montreal, yet with every passing day the sense of drift and nervousness about the Vancouver Games grows ever more noticeable.
There are plenty of good reasons to hate on the Olympic Games, and this one in particular - though I'd put the destruction of 1800 units of affordable housing and an accompanying process of gentrification which has made Vancouver the most expensive city in the world to live in right at the top, instead of the 'chaotic... transportation system' - but it's amazing to me that everyone is taking the spit out of Vancouver after the relatively free pass that Beijing was given.

Remember the Beijing Olympics. Y'know, the one that featured city with such unsafe air that they pulled cars from the roads in the weeks leading up to it, that faked the opening ceremonies several times and in several different ways, that destroyed the housing of tens of thousands of people to build their venues and 'relocated' them outside the city to live in places and with people they didn't know and couldn't choose, that said they would allow protesters to apply to protest but heavily discouraged applying and then disallowed every application that was made, and which built a $450 million stadium that's been used for only one (!) sporting event since the close of the 2008 Olympics and so is going to be turned into a shopping mall (!).

And we're meant to sincerely believe that Vancouver's Olympics might be worse than that? Wikipedia tells me that the cost of 2010 games is $1.6 billion for operations and $6 billion when including all infrastructure costs. And the city is expected to lose something in the neighborhood (or at least this is what I was hearing a couple weeks ago, before they started canceling events and flying extra extra snow in) of $150 million. The Beijing Olympics, on the other hand, were very roughly estimated to cost $15 billion for operations and $40 billion in total. (Though I've heard $65 billion, elsewhere.) There's no way they avoided losing billions - or tens of billions - of dollars.

But, again, according to Wikipedia, the 2008 games were a "logistical success". That's reassuring.


オテモヤン said...
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Aaron Ragan-Fore said...

Hey, one legacy of the Games I can definitely assert to you: down here in the Lower 48, the "You call it BC, we call it home" ad is in heavy rotation. And when Marty McFly speaks, I listen.

My questions: How much does a doe-eyed maple leaf with an hourglass figure make per hour? And what's going to become of all those ginormous inflatable beavers?

neilshyminsky said...

I was also asking these question - like, what the hell do you do with dozens of medal podiums when you no longer have any medals to give out? But at least the podiums could end up in a museum or something. Giant inflatable beavers? Probably not.

I think that the 'you call it BC, we call it home' commercials have a certain charm, but isn't this exactly what California did a few years ago? Get a bunch of famous people who live there to tell us how awesome it is? No points for creativity, here.