Amidst the euphoria surrounding Beijing’s Summer Olympics, and the lessons learned from previous Games, consider these reasons for making Athens, Greece the permanent summer Games site:
1. Reducing Costs and Spending Wisely.
The Beijing Olympics cost close to $43 Billion USD, the most expensive in history. The original budget estimates for the 2012 London Games were surpassed barely a year after its selection, and are projected to reach a “thrifty” $15-20 Billion USD.
Why the madness? Seems that regardless of financial risk, there is no shortage of cities vying to become Olympic host. Already, Chicago, Rio de Janiero, and Madrid have announced their candidacies for the 2016 Summer Olympics. Thus ensuring a free-for-all of high-stakes wining and dining until the official announcement in 2009.
Instead of committing tens of millions of dollars to competing bids on a quadrennial basis, keeping the Olympic Games in Athens would result in permanent savings, as well as a funds reallocation for local and national initiatives. In addition, member nations could contribute to an IOC infrastructure fund that ensures the viability of Athens’ sporting venues. A global allocation would pale in comparison to the mega-billions currently spent on replicating Olympic projects throughout the world.
2. Improving the Level of Transparency.
With all future Games in Athens, the extravagant and obscene bidding process that precedes the selection of each Olympic city would come to an end. Bribery scandals, kickbacks, and unaccountable public/private spending would be drastically reduced if not eliminated. Instead, the world’s sporting community should commit to keeping Athens’ Olympic infrastructure at the highest standards possible.
3. Promotion of Sustainable Development.
How about ending the scourge of infrequently or underused sports facilities around the world in Olympic cities? Nations of course have the right and duty to construct stadia and provide funding that helps athletes achieve peak performance. However, without the ‘Olympic’ hosting burden, both government and private companies would be more responsible with their policy decisions. Supporting Greece would be a wise investment – it would leave more money for promoting sport at the grassroots level and for traditionally disadvantaged groups. Amongst other societal priorities.
4. Respect for History and Civilization.
As the cradle of Western civilization and originator of the ancient Olympiad, Greece is well-positioned to treat the quadrennial event with the dignity, reverence, and respect it deserves. Athens hosted the first modern Olympics in 1896, as well as the 2004 version. Hence, it has proven itself capable of welcoming tens of thousands of athletes and providing facilities for the 300+ medal events currently on the books.
5. Hellenic Serenity – Truly a Friendly Games.
An open Games, a boycott-free Games, and a Games void of past athletic and bureaucratic excesses is in humanity’s best interest. Now is the time to revisit the roots of the Olympic movement, as articulated by modern Games founder Baron Pierre de Coubertin. The Olympic Charter is an idealist document, but what better way to conquer vices like overcommercialism and drug scandals than confirming Athens as the permanent host?
The Modern Olympics have been infested with regional and national rivalries for far too long. Politics may never be totally eliminated from the Games, but eliminating a major source of envy could be a major step forward. Dare we say that the Olympic Truce, the ceasing of all wars worldwide during the Games could become a reality?