August 30, 2004

Olympic Games: A Success?

The Games have ended in an orgy of odd dance returns and aged Greek entertainers. Did anyone else think that those fellows all dressed in black and shaking their money makers during a "war dance" performed while women harvested the wheat did not have the body form traditionally associated with dance? But I digress.

The Games are touted as a success all over the media. Were they? I have two small observations.

First, estimates now put the cost at $10 billion. How is this a success where, according to the World Bank (pdf file) average yearly income is a scant $11,660 a year? How are they going to pay for this? What is going to happen to the tax system? While people are crying about the security costs, by the way, please note that these costs were estimated to be about $1.2 billion, or not much more than 10% of the actual costs.

Second, what did the Greeks get for the money? They did not get attendance at the Games, particularly. Ticket sales were generally accepted to be poor and if you watched the Games, you saw that the stands were regularly empty or sparsely filled.

So, how was it a success? It cost a lot to put the show on and no one came.

I am not persuaded.

Posted by Random Penseur at August 30, 2004 08:55 AM

I don't pretend to have all the facts. I do know that the IOC props the host cities up LARGE.
Hosting an Olympics is an economic windfall not predicated on attendance revenues....

Posted by: gymrat at August 30, 2004 10:47 AM

I would dearly love to see some numbers or a reference for that assertion. It is the first I've heard of that. In fact, I seem to recall that I read that the IOC requires each Games to stand on its own with full financial independence.

I think that the only windfall or benefit to Greece may have been the upgrading of the public infrastructure and even that was done very expensively.

No, my understanding is that the IOC is a lot like the NY State Legislature -- full of unfunded mandates.

Either way, thanks for your comment.

Posted by: RP at August 30, 2004 10:51 AM

good morning.
you were up early - funny - so was I.
how was it a success?
i think they are just trying to stay positive.

Posted by: kbear at August 30, 2004 10:59 AM

All I gotta say is that the olympics in Montreal were wonderful with that little Russian chick getting the first and only perfet 10 in gymnastics, what a show it was... a show that was in 1976 and that we will finish paying for in 2006, if all goes well.

Nevermind that a huge slab of concrete of the olympic stadium fell to the groud when Metallica had a concert there... The thing was built on corruption and now it's trying to decompose its way to hell!

Posted by: Philippe Roy at August 30, 2004 12:12 PM

Maybe from the after Olympic events? I heard a blurb on the t.v. that the resturants "Usually had to drag people in off the streets, and now they is no room to sit people" or something along those lines.

But it wasn't an overall success in terms of the audience. Truthfully, I haven't gotten the sense of enthusiasim for the Olympics for many years; I seem to remember a greater amount of excitement when I was a child than has been evidence over the past ten years or so, but perhaps that is just me.

Posted by: Rachel Ann at August 30, 2004 12:30 PM

Maybe by "success" they meant terrorists didn't blow anything up, no one was held hostage and no one was murdered.

By those standards it was a success.

I thought the structures were beautiful but after I heard how much was spent and the state of their economy, I had the impression that the Greek government simply wanted to show off to the world. Ego. Status. Reminded me of Russia during the Cold War; pumping most of their money into the Space Program for a show of strength and superior technology while their people wore rags and fought over breadlines.

That being said, I enjoyed the Games. I loved the closing ceremonies; wheat, weirdness and all. But then, it looked bizarre to my Americanized eyes and I love anything that is different and strange in it's beauty. :-)

On the other hand, I haven't watched it all yet because I fell asleep on the couch and Dan finally turned it off and carried me to bed. Maybe when I'm not watching it through eyes fluttering with exhaustion I'll have a different reaction. :-)

Posted by: Amber at August 30, 2004 12:38 PM

Success perhaps, because all in all the games went well, there were no terrorist attacks, and Greece did a fine job.

But our paranoia and fear of a terrorist attack made many people stay away, and so as you said, attendance was miserably low. I've read that their debt alone after this will be of approximately 8.5 billion. The only things left to show for it will be a)The memory in everyone's minds of a well hosted olympics b)Future tourism prospects and c)Many extra-large stadiums and performance facilities which they have absolutely no use for.

It is very hard to imagine how Greece will manage to keep its economy afloat after this one.

Oh, and Philippe Roy, the perfect 10 in gymnastics in Montreal was given to Nadia Comanecci, a Rumanian, not a Russian.

Posted by: Mick at August 30, 2004 01:23 PM
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